New FDA Guidance Aims to Prevent Salmonella in Eggs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced that it has issued guidance on new safety rules for shell eggs.

On April 13, 2010, the FDA published guidance for small egg producers to help them comply with a 2009 federal egg safety regulation designed to prevent <"">Salmonella Enteritidis in shell eggs during production, transportation, and storage.

Entitled “Guidance for Industry: Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Transportation, and Storage—Small Entity Compliance Guide (SECG),” the new guidance is intended to set forth, in plain language, the requirements of the 2009 egg safety regulation in order to help small businesses comply with that regulation. The regulation is part of a coordinated strategy between the FDA and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to help ensure egg safety.

The FDA published the egg safety regulation in July 2009. It requires egg producers to have preventive measures in place during the production of shell eggs in poultry houses and requires subsequent refrigeration during storage and transportation to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis. The regulation is expected to prevent thousands of cases of foodborne illness and approximately 30 deaths caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with the bacterium Salmonella Enteritidis each year.

The regulation affects all egg producers with 3,000 or more laying hens who do not sell all of their shell eggs directly to consumers. Producers with fewer than 3,000 laying hens are exempt from the requirements. Producers with 50,000 or more laying hens must be in compliance with the regulation by July 2010. Producers with at least 3,000 but fewer than 50,000 laying hens must comply by July 2012.

Salmonella, the most prevalent foodborne pathogen in this country, is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis. Salmonella poisoning can lead to Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult-to-treat reactive arthritis characterized by severe joint pain, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination.

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