Breaking Down the Egg Safety Rule: Introduction and Chick Procurement
September 20, 2011

In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a rule that set out several measures to be taken by egg producers to prevent the contamination of shell eggs with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) during egg production. These measures include

  • Procurement of “SE Clean” chicks
  • Implementation of biosecurity and pest control programs
  • Environmental and egg testing
  • Refrigeration of eggs at the farm and during transport to a processing facility
  • Diversion of eggs from the table egg market from flocks in which SE has been detected.

The Egg Safety Rule was finalized in July 2009, with implementation taking effect July 9, 2010 for most commercial U.S. egg producers. One of the most important measures set by the Egg Safety Rule is the procurement of “SE Clean” chicks. SE has been found to be transmitted from hen to chick, living in the intestines and reproductive tract. Assuring that “SE Clean” chicks are placed in the laying house greatly reduces the chance that SE will be passed into the egg.

The National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) assures the “SE Clean” status of chicks and is managed by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) and 48 Official State Agencies Industry. State and federal agencies established standards for evaluating poultry parent flocks and hatcheries to ensure chicks are free of diseases that could be transmitted through the egg or to the chick from the hatchery environment. Through these standards, the NPIP provides certification that poultry destined for interstate and international shipment are free of all diseases covered under the program. The Egg Safety Rule requires that egg producers purchase chicks from parent flocks that are certified NPIP “SE Clean”.

Krista Eberle
Director of Food Safety Programs
United Egg Producers