Food Safety Regulations

Shell eggs produced in U.S. are subject to food safety oversight from both Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

All processed egg products must be pasteurized under regulations long supported by the egg community. Approximately one-third of U.S. eggs are broken and further processed to make egg products sold as retail or food service items, or as ingredients for food manufacturers. These may be whole eggs, egg whites or egg yolks, and they may be liquid, frozen or dried. The safety of egg products is regulated by the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service.

Federal law also states that shell eggs imported into the U.S. and packed for consumer use are to include a certification that they have been stored and transported at an ambient temperature of no greater than 45° F.

FDA Egg Safety Rule

U.S. egg farmers follow FDA’s Final Rule on Egg Safety, which requires shell egg farmers to implement measures to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) from contaminating eggs on the farm. FDA’s Egg Rule went into effect in 2009 and requires complete compliance from egg farms with more than 3,000 birds or persons who store and/or transport eggs. The Egg Rule addresses on-farm practices proven to reduce the risk of SE entering the laying hen environment, including biosecurity, house cleaning and disinfection, fly and rodent control and SE testing. The Egg Rule requires eggs to be refrigerated on farm within 36 hours of lay.

Egg producers have been regulated for decades under various statutes and by several federal, state and local agencies.

Egg Products Inspection Act

Egg producers have participated in a significant inspection program since the 1970s. The Egg Products Inspection Act mandates that shell egg plants be inspected quarterly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS). AMS inspectors verify that disposal of restricted eggs (those falling into certain categories such as cracked, checked or dirty eggs) is done per regulations.

Government Regulations and Resources

Farmers take many steps to ensure egg safety and quality. Learn more about food safety programs here.