The United States has the strongest avian influenza (AI) surveillance program in the world. It was established to ensure the continued safety of the food supply. Following the detection of AI in flocks in several states, the USDA avian influenza response plans were activated. As part of the existing plans, Federal and State partners, as well as the egg industry are responding quickly and decisively to these outbreaks. American egg farmers remain vigilant in order to keep their flocks free from disease and to assure the safety of shell eggs and egg products.
The food safety record for egg products remains unbroken at 40 plus years. Since 1970 when Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act, all further-processed U.S. egg products distributed for consumption must be pasteurized to eliminate Salmonella. This includes all forms of liquid, frozen and dried ingredients. The institution of mandatory pasteurization has proven very successful, confirmed by the fact there have been no recorded outbreaks of salmonellosis linked to pasteurized egg products since its inception. As a result, food manufacturers and foodservice organizations that use pasteurized egg products can have confidence in their safety.
“The impressive safety record of egg products is due to a very successful collaboration between industry and government,” explains Dr. Patricia Curtis, Auburn University Professor and Director of the National Egg Processing Center. “But it’s an ongoing process that requires repeated quality assurance testing. Heat treatment methods used by egg processors ensure harmful bacteria are destroyed.”
The egg product safety record appears even more remarkable when considered in terms of the 82 billion eggs eaten annually in the U.S., more than 30 percent of which is made up of egg products, liquid, frozen or dried. A Midwestern food processor further substantiates egg product safety commenting, “we use commercial pasteurized processed egg products in our sauces, egg custards and other products. With the intense research and studies conducted by USDA Agriculture Research Service, we’re confident in the safety of pasteurized egg products.”
Making egg products
The process begins with the breaking and removal of the shell from fresh eggs. The eggs are then filtered and cooled to maintain quality, while they await further processing.
The further processing step may include the addition of non-egg ingredients, mixing or blending, stabilizing, pasteurizing, cooling, and packaging for freezing or subsequent to drying.
Although pasteurized refrigerated eggs may have a limited shelf life of a few weeks, both frozen and dried egg products, when properly stored, will maintain a stable shelf life for months.
Storage & handling
Safe handling tips for further processed egg products for food processors:
Frozen products should show no signs of having thawed
Refrigerated products should be kept at 40 F or below
Dried egg products should flow freely and not be caked up or hardened
Use all further processed egg products well within any expiration dates
In addition, whether refrigerated liquid, frozen or dried, egg products supply an impressive nutritional profile to most processed food products.
More advantages of further processed eggs:
For more information about the wide variety of pasteurized, government inspected, further processed egg products, contact American Egg Board, 1-877-488-6143 or 847-296-7043, or visit www.aeb.org.