[Homestead] Salmonella in eggs finally get regulated by FDA

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Tue Sep 21 00:38:21 EDT 2004

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Farms Should Test for Salmonella in Eggshells-FDA

2 hours, 19 minutes ago

/By Christopher Doering/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Large U.S. farms that sell eggs will be required 
to adopt stricter food safety measures to reduce the risk of chicken egg 
shells being contaminated with salmonella, the U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration (news 
- web sites 
said on Monday.


The FDA (news 
- web sites 
proposed new rules that will require about 4,100 of the nation's biggest 
egg farms to test their chicken houses for salmonella enteritidis. The 
farms will also have to refrigerate eggs once they are collected from 
hens and adopt better sanitation measures to control mice and other pests.

An estimated 118,000 illnesses a year are caused by eating eggs 
contaminated with salmonella enteritidis, according to the FDA. The 
agency said its proposed rules for farms would cut the number of cases 
by an estimated 33,500 annually.

Eating eggs with salmonella enteritidis that have not been fully cooked 
can lead to severe diarrhea, short term or chronic arthritis and in rare 
cases, death. The elderly, children and individuals with weak immune 
systems are most susceptible.

Unlike other forms of salmonella, the illness is spread when an infected 
hen transfers the disease to shell eggs.

The new rules will not apply to farms that pasteurize their eggs to 
destroy harmful germs, the agency said.

The FDA said it targeted stricter food safety practices on the farm 
after guidelines issued in 2000 for safe handling and refrigeration of 
eggs by retailers failed to cut the rate of salmonella.

"The incidence of these illnesses has really pretty much remained steady 
over the past several years," Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's 
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told reporters. "This will 
be a sort of landmark rule that will help to decrease those number of 


Consumer groups said they welcomed the stricter rules.

"It's been talked about and promised and we're glad the egg regulation 
is finally out, but everything was in place to get this out almost five 
years ago," said Caroline Smith DeWall, director of food safety for the 
Center of Science in the Public Interest.

"It targets the right areas, which are farm-based controls that can 
really eliminate this hazard," she added.

The biggest change will require large egg farms to test henhouses for 
the disease. If salmonella enteritidis is found in the building, the 
building must be disinfected, eggs must be tested and any contaminated 
eggs cannot be sold on retail shelves.

"It's not going to be too hard for most of the industry to get up to 
speed with this proposed regulation," said Hilary Shallo Thesmar, 
director at the Egg Safety Center, a division of the American Egg Board 
which represents the industry.

"The big (egg producers) who supply the major grocery store 
chains...they already have food safety programs. They monitor their 
farms. They test their eggs," she said.

The FDA estimated the rules would cost each large farm about $20,000 
annually, while saving taxpayers $490 million each year.

"The estimated benefits are dramatic," said Lou Carson, deputy director 
of food safety at the FDA. "The benefits are obviously for a safer food 
product, but mostly they are derived from reduced hospitalization and 
long-term injuries."

U.S. farm groups, consumer organizations and the public will have 90 
days to comment on the rule after it is published in the Federal 
Register this week.

Separately, the FDA also said it will work with the U.S. Agriculture 
Department to decide if guidelines are needed to reduce illnesses from 
serving undercooked eggs at retail outlets.

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