Mandatory pasteurization ensures egg products are food safe
The United States has the strongest avian influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world to assure the food supply remains safe and will continue to coordinate rigorous surveillance reporting and control efforts. As part of the existing USDA avian influenza response plans, Federal and State partners as well as the egg industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks. American egg farmers continue to be vigilant in keeping their flocks free from disease and assuring the safety of shell eggs and egg products they provide to their customers. Thoroughly cooked shell eggs and egg products, all of which by law are pasteurized, remain safe.
The food safety record for egg products remains unbroken at 40 plus years. Since 1970, when Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act, all further-processed U.S. egg products distributed for consumption must be pasteurized. This includes all forms of liquid, frozen and dried egg products as well as precooked scrambled, patties and hard-boiled eggs. Mandatory pasteurization has proven very successful, supported by the fact that there have been no recorded outbreaks of salmonellosis or other foodborne illness linked to pasteurized egg products since its inception. As a result, food manufacturers and foodservice organizations that use pasteurized egg products can have confidence in their safety.
“The impressive safety record of egg products is due to a very successful collaboration between industry and government,” explains Dr. Patricia Curtis, Auburn University Professor and Director of the National Egg Processing Center. “But it’s an ongoing process that requires repeated quality assurance testing. Heat treatment methods used by egg processors ensure harmful bacteria are destroyed.”
The egg product safety record appears even more remarkable when considered in terms of the 82 billion eggs eaten annually in the U.S., more than 30 percent of which is made up of egg products, liquid, frozen or dried. A Midwestern food processor further substantiates egg product safety commenting, “we use commercial pasteurized egg products in our sauces, egg custards and other food products. With the intense ongoing research and validation studies conducted by USDA Agriculture Research Service, we’re confident in the safety of pasteurized egg products.”
Making egg products
The process begins with the breaking and removal of the shell from fresh eggs. The eggs are then filtered and cooled to maintain quality, while they await further processing. The further processing step may include the addition of non-egg ingredients, mixing or blending, stabilizing, pasteurizing, cooling and packaging for freezing or subsequent to drying.
Although pasteurized refrigerated egg products 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.
Egg product safe handling tips for food processors:
In addition, whether refrigerated liquid, frozen or dried, egg products supply an impressive nutritional profile to most processed food products.
More advantages of further processed eggs:
For more information about the wide variety of pasteurized, government-inspected, egg products, contact American Egg Board 847-296-7043. For more information about egg safety, visit www.eggsafety.org.
America’s egg farmers are deeply concerned about the threat of Avian Influenza (AI) to their flocks and to the egg industry, especially the newly confirmed findings of AI on commercial egg farms. The strains of AI that have been found are not a public health concern and have not affected any humans to date.
However, America’s egg farmers want to ensure that we are keeping food manufacturers and foodservice organizations up-to-date on the situation. The following answers to frequently asked questions are provided for your reference.
What is avian influenza?
Avian influenza, a virus commonly known as the “bird flu,” is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus.
Is there AI on egg farms?
Yes, there have been positive findings of AI on commercial egg farms. However, egg farmers work diligently to care for their flocks and are also working hand-in-hand with federal regulatory authorities to help prevent the disease from entering other farms.
Can people contract AI from eggs?
No. The CDC considers the risk to people from the virus to be low as AI cannot be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked eggs. Additionally, the strains of this disease are not transmissible to humans, and no human infections with these viruses have been detected.
Further processed egg products in all their forms are pasteurized to ensure their safety. Pasteurization inactivates the AI virus.
Are shell eggs from infected farms in the egg supply?
The United States has the strongest AI surveillance program in the world, ensuring the food supply remains safe. Once an egg farm has tested positive for AI, those eggs must be destroyed and cannot be sent to the market. It’s unlikely that shell eggs from an infected farm would make into the supply chain.
What are egg farmers doing to prevent the spread of AI?
Biosecurity is always a priority on U.S. egg farms, and egg farmers are focused on taking all needed steps to protect their flocks. In response to the virus, U.S. egg farmers, together with turkey and chicken producers, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other authorities, have heightened measures on the farm to limit the spread of avian influenza. Comprehensive biosecurity practices on commercial egg farms include, but are not limited to, restricting farm access, preventing hens from exposure to wild and migratory birds, increasing veterinary monitoring of flocks and using protective gear at all times.
Where should I go if I have more questions or want more information?
America’s egg farmers continue to be vigilant in keeping their hens free from disease and assure retailers and their customers that eggs and egg products are safe. For more information, please visit www.eggsafety.org or contact the American Egg Board at 847.296.7043 or via email at .