The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a public meeting in Chicago this week to discuss the final egg rule that will require preventative measures to lessen Salmonella Enteritidis in shell eggs.

The meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, September 30th, is the first of two that the agency has planned to discuss the final egg rule that it announced last July.

The purpose of the public meetings is to explain the new requirements and help producers learn how to comply with the measure. It will also serve as an opportunity for the public to ask questions.

The final rule, which requires all egg producers with 3,000 or more laying hens to employ preventative measures to ensure the safety of the eggs, during production, storage, and transportation, is expected to prevent 79,000 cases of foodborne illness and 30 deaths caused by the consumption of contaminated eggs.

“Preventing harm to consumers is our first priority,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg.

“Egg-associated illness caused by Salmonella is a serious public health problem. Infected individuals may suffer mild to severe gastrointestinal illness, short term of chronic arthritis, or even death. Implementing the preventative measures would reduce the number of Salmonella Enteritidis infections from eggs by nearly 60 percent,” according to agency.

Producers with at least 3,000 laying hens (but fewer than 50,000) will have three years to comply with the rule. Producers with 50,000 or more laying hens must comply within a year of the measure hitting the Federal Register.

Under the new rule, egg producers must only use chick and hen suppliers who monitor for Salmonella and they must establish rodent, pest control, and biosecurity measures to prevent the spread of the bacteria at their own facilities.

The rule also mandates testing frequency and requires that producers clean and disinfect poultry houses that have tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis.