In July 2010, shell egg producers with 50,000 or more laying hens became subject to the Food and Drug Associations (FDA)Egg Safety Rule, which requires producers to implement measures to reduce the chance of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) contaminating eggs on the farm. As part of the Rule, egg producers are required to undergo inspections conducted by FDA investigators to make sure they are following all the required measures. The agency focused its initial inspections on farms that had been associated with previous recalls, outbreaks, or consumer complaints as well as those with poor compliance histories.
After the initial inspections were completed at the beginning of 2011, the agency turned its focus to the remaining 300+ farms. When conducting inspections, teams of FDA investigators have the option to collect microbiological samples of the environment as a way to assess if the farm is following the required measures. Of the 2,056 individual swabs collected during 2011, only 52 showed a positive for SE, meaning that ~2.5% of the environmental samples were positive.
Since the Rules implementation, FDA has conducted over 550 inspections. This number will continue to grow as the second set of producers (3,000-49,999 laying hens) comes under the Rule in July of this year. The very small percentage of SE positives found by FDA investigators demonstrates the hard work and dedication that egg producers are continuing to put into implementing the FDA Egg Safety Rule and other egg safety programs to ensure that consumers receive the safest, highest quality eggs possible.
For more detailed information on inspections conducted under the Egg Safety Rule, please visit- http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-specificInformation/EggSafety/ucm280220.htm.