In spite of the significant news related to the current egg recall, food manufacturers can have confidence in the egg product supply. The first step toward ensuring a safe processed food is to ensure the basic ingredients are safe as well. The egg product safety record allows food processors to rest in the knowledge that they are using a safe ingredient when including further processed, pasteurized eggs. Egg nutritional and functional power is supplied by nature while its safety record is provided by the producers’ hard work and conscientious effort to implement best practices.
Actually, government and private industry work together to achieve this safety record. Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act in 1970 which requires that all egg products distributed for consumption be pasteurized to destroy Salmonella. In the past 40 years there have been no recorded outbreaks of salmonellosis linked to pasteurized egg products, since the institution of mandatory pasteurization.
This safety record is especially impressive considering the volume of eggs consumed in this country. Of the more than 76 billion eggs eaten annually, slightly more than 30% are in the form of egg products, further processed into either a liquid, frozen or dried form.
“The US egg product supply is among the safest in the world. It is important that the food industry remain vigilant in efforts to further improve the microbiological safety and quality of their products,” says Craig “Skip” Julius, CRS, CCS, CEC, Director of Innovation, Pierre Foods, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The first step in producing an egg product is removal from the shell followed by filtering and cooling to maintain quality awaiting processing. Further processing may include the addition of non-egg ingredients, mixing or blending, stabilizing, pasteurizing, cooling, and packaging for freezing or subsequent to drying.
“The USDA-approved pasteurization (heat treatment) methods assure food manufacturers that they’re using high-quality, safe egg products. The companies involved in producing egg products conduct thousands of quality assurance tests to be sure harmful bacteria are destroyed during the pasteurization process,”says Dr. Patricia Curtis, Auburn University Professor and Director of the National Egg Processing Center.
FDA regulations require qualifying statements when the terms “no hormones or antibiotics” are declared on labels for eggs. Additionally, no hormones or therapeutic antibiotics are used in the production of eggs for human food. Antibiotics may be used occasionally, but eggs from treated hens are removed from the market for a specified period of time in accordance with applicable regulations.
Although pasteurized refrigerated eggs may have a limited shelf life of a few weeks, both frozen and dried egg products, when properly stored, will maintain a stable shelf life for months.
Further tips for the food processor to ensure the safety of further processed egg products once received at the plant include:
- Frozen products should show no signs of having thawed
- Refrigerated products should be kept at 40 degrees F or below
- Dried egg products should flow freely and not be caked up or hardened
- Use all further processed egg products well within any expiration dates
And walking hand in hand with the safety record is egg product convenience. Even with the wide variety of standardized further processed egg products available, processors can tailor them to meet specific formulation needs, functionality and shelf life considerations.
In addition, whether refrigerated liquid, frozen or dried, egg products supply an impressive nutritional profile to most processed food products. When properly stored, these processed egg ingredients will maintain a stable shelf life for months.
Some of the advantages of further processed eggs include:
- Assurance of a safe product
- Reduced risk of contamination
- Extended shelf life
- Consistent performance
- Product stability
Creating appealing food products with great taste is a challenge enough. Exceed your expectations and take the worry about safety out of your formulation concerns with real egg products. For more information about the wide variety of pasteurized, government inspected, further processed egg products, contact American Egg Board, 1-800-488-6143 or 847-296-7043, or visit www.aeb.org.