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US Egg Farms to Face Inspections

5 October 2010

Inspections of egg farms in the US will begin this month following a countrywide salmonella outbreak and the recall of 550 million eggs in September.

According to the United Egg Producers (UEP), checks will be made at large-scale egg-producing facilities as part of a food safety law that came into force in July.

Talking to foodprocessing-technology.com, UEP and Egg Safety Center director of food safety programmes Krista Eberle said: "There were checks taking place at the time [before the recall] but the Food and Drug Administration implemented a law on 9 July and inspections will begin this month."

The law also requires egg producers to adopt measures such as refrigeration during egg storage and transportation to cut the risks of salmonella, a bacterium which sickened nearly 1,500 people in May.

Salmonella, which is usually picked up by a hen from its environment, invades the organs and reproductive track of a bird.

"The yolk of an egg is the perfect environment for salmonella to live because it contains nutrients," said Eberle.

"The bird will lay the contaminated egg and, if it is not handled properly, the bacteria can grow inside the egg. That is why there are so many protocols in place to make sure eggs are refrigerated."

Under the new legislation, egg producers whose shell eggs are not processed with a treatment such as pasteurisation must buy chicks and young hens only from suppliers who monitor salmonella.

They must also establish rodent and pest control measures and conduct testing in poultry houses for the pathogen.