Food safety practices used at egg packing and egg products establishments
Each year Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) causes thousands of illnesses and hospitalizations from the consumption of undercooked eggs. The egg industry is implementing a variety of practices, in addition to those required by regulation, to help reduce the number of SE illnesses. To characterize food safety practices in the egg industry, we conducted a national mail survey of egg packing and egg products plants. We received 201 surveys from egg packing plants and 60 surveys from egg products plants. The survey collected information on use of specific food safety practices and technologies, microbiological testing practices, and employee food safety training. Many plants have adopted food safety practices not required by current regulations. For example, in the egg packing industry, 67% of eggs are transported from the farm to the plant at or below 45°F, and 52% of eggs are stored for less than one day at the plant. Most egg products plants conduct voluntary microbiological testing (80% of plants) and environmental sampling (73%). Furthermore, half of egg packing plants and 80% of egg products plants have a written self-reported, non-regulatory HACCP plan. The survey findings, along with other data, can be used to characterize current industry practices prior to promulgation of HACCP regulations.