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USDA drafts rule for eggs, egg substitutes used in many foods

Eggs and egg substitutes used as ingredients in other foods could be subject to new safety rules from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Safety plans and measures to ensure that eggs are free of pathogens like Salmonella are among the requirements of the proposed regulations.

The 252-page draft rule would require egg plants to use Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) planning. At so-called breaker plants, eggs are removed from their shells before they are divided into whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks.The egg products, in frozen, refrigerated, liquid and dried forms, are used in a vast number of food products

The purpose of the proposed rule is to modernize food safety inspection systems at egg products plants. Under HACCP systems, owners and managers of plants will be able to tailor food safety systems to best fit their particular facilities and equipment. Furthermore, FSIS plans to remove prescriptive regulations and give egg products plants the flexibility and incentive to innovate new means to achieve enhanced food safety.

“As we continue to modernize inspection systems and processes, we are committed to strengthening consistency across the services of FSIS inspection personnel carry out for the consuming public,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg.

“This proposed rule will ensure the same level of inspection and oversight of all regulated products as we carry out our public health mission.”

About 93 percent of egg products plants already operate under written HACCP plans for at least one step in their production processes. In addition to HACCP planning, the proposed regulations would require egg plants to adhere to Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures or Sanitation SOPs that are consistent with existing meat and poultry requirements.

The draft rule is designed to replace existing regulations concerning grounds and pest management, plant construction and sanitation including rooms, doors and windows and lighting and ventilation.

“The agency is proposing to replace all of these with general sanitation requirements, as it has previously done with the requirements on the same subjects in the meat and poultry product regulations,” according to FSIS officials.

A 120-day public comment period will begin as soon as the Federal Register publishes the new draft rule.

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