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FSIS modernizes egg products inspection rule

TAGS: Policy
FSIS modernizes egg products inspection rule
Rule aligns egg products regulations similarly to meat and poultry requirements.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that it is modernizing egg products inspection methods for the first time since Congress passed the Egg Products Inspection Act in 1970. The Egg Products Inspection Regulations final rule aligns the egg products regulations to be consistent with current requirements in the meat and poultry products inspection regulations.

“Requiring egg product plants to develop food safety systems and procedures similar to meat and poultry requirements is a significant milestone in modernizing our inspection system," FSIS administrator Paul Kiecker said. “FSIS is continuing to carry out its public health mission to prevent foodborne illness."

Under the new rule, federally inspected egg product plants are required to develop and implement hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) systems and sanitation standard operating procedures. FSIS said it will continue to test for salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes in egg products. FSIS requires that plants produce egg products that meet food safety standards and are edible without additional preparation, and nothing in the final rule changes those requirements.

Under the HACCP system, plants will be able to tailor a food safety system that best fits their particular facility and equipment. Furthermore, by removing prescriptive regulations, egg product plants will have the flexibility and the incentive to innovate new means to achieve enhanced food safety.

In addition, FSIS will be assuming regulatory authority over egg substitutes and freeze-dried egg products, which pose the same risk as egg products and will be inspected in the same manner, enhancing the existing food safety system.

Oscar Garrison, senior vice president of food safety regulatory affairs at the United Egg Producers, said, “U.S. egg producers and processors remain firmly committed to food safety. We recognize that USDA’s decision is based on the continuous improvement in food safety practices and standards within egg production and processing that have occurred in recent years.”

UEA Further Processors -- representing the egg processing segment of the industry, which processes about 80% of all eggs broken in the U.S. -- supports the agency’s decision “because it reflects those advancements while also recognizing the strong dedication that America’s egg farmers and further processors have to assuring a safe, nutritious supply of eggs and egg products,” Garrison added.

The agency has also realigned the regulations governing the importation and inspection of foreign egg products more closely with the regulations governing the importation of foreign meat and poultry products. FSIS will notify foreign countries of the regulatory changes. Countries that have ongoing equivalence and most countries that have requested initial equivalence for egg products already have HACCP implemented for egg products for their domestic products. 

A pre-publication copy of the rule can be viewed here.

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