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FDA Inspects Maine Egg Farms—Farms Test Negative for SE
December 15, 2010
Contact: Don Hoenig
AUGUSTA—Under provisions of the new Egg Safety Rule adopted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 9, 2010, FDA inspectors recently completed an inspection of Maine’s major commercial egg farms. During routine environmental testing by FDA, no positive test results for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) were found on the farms.
Dr. Don Hoenig, Maine State Veterinarian who oversees the state’s SE Program, reports that one of the requirements of the Maine program is to test the environment of the poultry houses, during production, for the presence of SE.
“Our poultry houses have all been free of SE for more than a year, and we are very pleased to report that environmental tests performed by the FDA inspectors were also negative for the bacteria in all the buildings they tested,” said Hoenig. “This is extremely good news for Maine consumers and for egg farmers in Maine, because it means our program is working, and that Maine eggs are among the safest in the country.” Hoenig said this success demonstrates the importance of the collaborative effort between the state, the University of Maine at Orono, and egg farmers, to prevent SE on the state’s egg farms.
In 1988, Maine began implementing one of the country’s first SE Risk Reduction programs. At that time, egg-associated outbreaks due to SE were increasing nationwide and many states were developing and implementing their own SE quality assurance programs.
Maine’s program, which is mandatory for all commercial poultry farms in the state, contains provisions which are more stringent than the FDA Egg Safety Rule, including that all egg-laying hens be “double” vaccinated for SE; birds are blood tested 6–8 weeks after vaccination to assure the vaccine was correctly administered; and buildings are inspected monthly to assess rodent control. In the more than 20-year history of the Maine program, there have not been any egg-associated SE human illnesses traced to Maine eggs.
The new FDA Egg Safety Rule requires all producers with more than 50,000 laying hens to implement measures to prevent SE from contaminating eggs on the farm and from growing in the eggs during storage and transportation. The FDA estimates that as many as 79,000 illnesses and 30 deaths due to consumption of eggs contaminated with SE may be avoided each year through implementation of this new rule.
Seth Bradstreet, Maine’s Commissioner of Agriculture was also pleased with the progress that Maine’s poultry farmers have made in SE control. “Eggs are the third largest agricultural commodity in Maine, behind potatoes and milk, and there are hundreds of direct and indirect jobs related to the industry,” he said. “It’s great to see that our industry has risen to the challenge of going above and beyond national standards to ensure their product is safe.”
Contact: Don Hoenig, firstname.lastname@example.org, 207-287-7615
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