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Salmonella-Free Guarantee for Flandreau Plant Eggs

by 5m Editor
4 September 2009, at 8:03a.m.

SOUTH DAKOTA, US - National Pasteurized Eggs' new egg processing plant near Flandreau incorporates technology to eliminate salmonella contamination.

Operators of a sprawling new egg processing facility say their bacteria-killing, state-of-the-art technology eliminates concerns about salmonella poisoning.

Argus Leader reports that they unveiled their patented egg pasteurization process Tuesday during tours of the plant north of Flandreau. The facility opened in April, and the company plans to process more than 240 million eggs each year and add about 60 jobs to South Dakota's economy.

The new plant comes online amid growing concerns about food safety that have prompted major legislation in Congress this year. It also follows one of the largest recalls in US history after salmonella was found in peanuts. Nine people were killed and hundreds more were sickened in that outbreak, traced to a Georgia peanut plant.

About 142,000 Americans are infected with salmonella related to eggs every year, according to Illinois-based National Pasteurized Eggs, which operates the egg processing plant. It will allow the firm, which operates a second plant in suburban Chicago, to double its production.

National Pasteurized Eggs' partner in the venture is Dakota Layers, a cooperative egg-laying farm founded by more than 120 families – mostly South Dakotans. They bring about a million birds to the operation. The birds are housed in five giant buildings a few yards from the processing plant.

Inside the plant, biosecurity is a priority.

"Once you go through this door, you're on camera," National Pasteurized Eggs president, Greg West, said while giving a tour of operations.

Fingerprint recognition combined with another pass is required for admittance into one key office inside the plant, and only three people have access to it, said Hector Lara, NPE's vice president of operations.

Visitors must wear hair covers and smocks and use an automatic hand-washing machine before gaining entrance to parts of the facility. At one door, a bacteria-killing chemical is sprayed at shoe level so that visitors walk over it before reaching sensitive areas. In another room, eggs are lowered mechanically into large tanks of roiling water as part of the pasteurization process. Precise temperature control is crucial, Mr West explained.

"I can't tell you the temperature because that's part of our patented process," he told Argus Leader.

Once the eggs are packaged, they are trucked to locations throughout the western United States. NPE's suburban Chicago plant produces eggs for the eastern US and recently began exporting some to Mexico.