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FDA Steps Up Inspections Under New Egg Rule

by 5m Editor
6 September 2010, at 1:08p.m.

US - Federal regulators were laying out plans to inspect the facilities where 80 per cent of the country's eggs are produced, after issuing reports on the investigation of a <em>Salmonella Enteritidis</em> outbreak that has sickened nearly 1,500 people.

Over the next 15 months, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators will team up with state and local partners to visit about 600 egg producers – those with 50,000 or more laying hens – to determine if their facilities are in compliance with an egg safety rule that went into effect in July.

Michael Taylor, FDA's deputy commissioner for foods, says the rule sets safety standards that are intended to prevent outbreaks of Salmonella Enteritidis like the one that has led to the recall of more than 500 million eggs.

"We think that the industry’s compliance with this rule will significantly reduce the risk of (Salmonella Enteritidis) infections and outbreaks in the future," Mr Taylor said during a conference call with reporters.

Since the egg safety rule went into effect on 9 July, FDA officials have been moving forward with plans aimed at ensuring the safety of the nation's egg supply. Now, facilities with 50,000 or more laying hens must implement controls to prevent contamination, including: refrigeration of eggs within 36 hours of laying, ensuring chicks are from uninfected flocks, and testing hen houses for Salmonella Enteriditis.

Under the rule, egg producers are legally responsible for implementing measures that will prevent egg contamination.

Mr Taylor says the rule came too late to prevent the current outbreak, adding "but we think it is going to be a powerful tool for preventing outbreaks like this in the future."

Since 12 August, when the inspections first began, FDA investigators have observed and documented conditions at facilities operated by the two Iowa companies at the centre of the egg recall – Hillandale Farms of Iowa and Wright County Egg.

David Elder, FDA's director of regional operations, says inspectors found "significant objectionable" conditions at poultry houses, including live and dead flies that were "too numerous to count", live rodents, maggots, and structural damage that allowed animals to enter poultry houses. He says inspections over the next 15 months and beyond will ensure egg producers are meeting FDA standards under the new rule.

Further Reading

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