USDA proposes modernizing food safety in egg plants

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: iStock. Proposed amendment of egg products inspection regulations
Picture: iStock. Proposed amendment of egg products inspection regulations

Related tags: Food and drug administration, Hazard analysis and critical control points, Food, Fsis

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) is proposing to modernize food safety inspection systems at egg products plants.

The proposed rule​ aims to amend the egg products inspection regulations.

It will require official plants that process egg products to develop Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and to meet other sanitation requirements consistent with meat and poultry regulations.

Moderize inspection and processes

Under the HACCP system, plants will be able to tailor a food safety system to fit the facility and equipment.

Current requirements mandate step-by-step processing measures and prescribe minimal time and temperature combinations for pasteurization treatment of various egg products.

USDA-FSIS said the regulatory amendment will mean agency resources are used more efficiently.

Carmen Rottenberg, acting deputy under secretary for food safety, said the proposed rule will ensure the same level of inspection and oversight of all regulated products.

“As we continue to modernize inspection systems and processes, we are committed to strengthening consistency across the services that FSIS inspection personnel carry out for the consuming public.”

FSIS is proposing to eliminate regulatory provisions not consistent with meat and poultry regulations.

Cost for the proposed rule is mitigated by the fact that 93% of egg products plants already use a written HACCP plan that addresses at least one production step in their process.

Proposed rule highlights

FSIS is proposing generic approval as part of the prior label approval system for egg products; labeling requirements for shell eggs would be updated to be consistent with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and require special handling instructions on egg products.

Inspection in such plants would be required at least once per shift instead of during all processing operations.

Plants will be required to reassess adequacy of their HACCP plans at least annually and whenever changes occur that could affect the hazard analysis or alter the HACCP plan.

Existing regulations that might be replaced by general sanitation requirements include those relating to egg products plant grounds and pest management; plant sanitation and construction, including rooms, doors and windows; lighting; ventilation and odors; plumbing; sewage disposal and water supply and solution re-use.

The proposed regulations will require sites to maintain control of items that have been sampled and tested for hazards such as Salmonella until test results are available.

FSIS will continue to test for Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in egg products and require that plants test pasteurized products for pathogens.

The rule will provide for use of irradiated shell eggs in the processing of egg and food products containing them.

There will be a 120-day period for comment once the rule is published in the Federal Register.

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