Written by Katharine Richter
On September 29, 2015, The National Chicken Council (NCC), Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), and Association for Dressings and Sauces (ADS) wrote a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asking “to amend the Final Rule on Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation, published July 9, 2009 [74 FR 33030].”
The rule requires that any eggs being sent to breaking facilities, which will eventually be pasteurized, must be “kept at 45 degrees F within 36 hours after being laid.” The NCC originally challenged the rule when it was being proposed in 2010 because the FDA never explained the additional health benefits from requiring the refrigeration and the petition argues there is “no additional food safety value.” The refrigeration requirements effectively made broiler hatcheries dispose of all excess eggs, which the NCC estimated was around 365 million eggs last year. Prior to the rule, broiler hatcheries could sell excess eggs they had due to fluctuating market demands. The excess eggs were sold as “breaker eggs” (eggs broken and sold in liquid form). With the enactment of the rule, the broiler farms could not sell the excess eggs because they failed to meet the refrigeration requirements.
The petition comes at a time when egg prices have “more than doubled in the period following the HPAI outbreak.” Many companies have felt the price increase. The petition states that, “Industry experts estimate that the price of a dozen breaker eggs rose dramatically from 63 cents in late April to $2.15 in early June.” The petition argues changing the rule to either make breaker eggs exempt from the refrigeration requirement or increasing the refrigeration requirement to 120 hours after being laid, would help meet market demands and stop the need to import eggs from other countries.