Friday, October 29, 2010

Egg industry, government working on new safety standards

In the wake of the summer's salmonella outbreak, the egg industry and government regulators are both working to improve egg safety. The United Egg Producers is "developing safety standards for the industry that would go beyond federal regulations" and "the Food and Drug Administration, which is primarily responsible for egg safety but has a limited force of inspectors, plans to train Agriculture Department personnel in how to catch potential problems at egg farms and to conduct inspections," Philip Brasher of the Des Moines Register reports.

UEP is "developing industry standards that will mirror the agency's production rules and go a step further by requiring participating producers to vaccinate all hens against salmonella," Brasher writes. The group is also considering writing sanitation standards for feed mills because of contamination FDA found at one Iowa facility, Howard Magwire, vice president of government relations for UEP, told Brasher. FDA said until July it didn't have any standards that egg producers had to meet.

USDA and FDA have given themselves until Nov. 30 to come up with a plan for training employees to spot food-safety problems, according to a Sept. 15 letter, Brasher writes. Consumer advocate Caroline Smith DeWaal of the Center for Science in the Public Interest applauded FDA for sending USDA inspectors to egg farms instead of relying on state regulators. "It's a more reliable system than what FDA has been using in recent years," she said. (Read more)

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