Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Clean eggs are important for safety and health

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By David B. Strickland

Poultry Times staff

dstrickland@poultrytimes.com

GAINESVILLE, Ga. — With consumer concerns running the gamut from salmonella to avian influenza, it’s critical for poultry products such as eggs to arrive in consumer hands clean and safe.

Clean eggs are also vital for hatchery production to ensure healthy baby chicks.

“The most important step in egg sanitation is the production of nest-clean eggs,” says information prepared by the University of California-Davis. “The key to production of quality chicks is production of clean eggs. Proper egg sanitation will reduce transfer of disease agents from egg shells to chicks.”

Keeping birds and eggs clean and safe from potential disease takes vigilant steps in regard to sanitation and biosecurity.

“Poultry diseases can be spread from infected birds by egg transmission (transovarian) or from bird to bird. Transmission of pathogens via the egg includes transovarian transmission (hen to egg) and eggshell-to-embryo contamination during incubation and hatching,” The Texas A&M University Extension Service said. “Facilities and equipment should be cleaned from top to bottom, inside to out and with the natural drain of effluent water to prevent recontamination of cleaned facilities.”

To assist with these goals of keeping eggs clean, machine companies are also constantly working on systems that will facilitate producers’ processes of cleanliness and efficiency.

Some examples include Big Dutchman’s NXB laying nest system which has nest bottoms that can be easily removed and cleaned, as well as closure rods that when used at night stop hens from sleeping in the nests and helps keep the nests clean. The company’s EggTrax belt drive’s wires and fingers help remove feathers and dirt that can potentially contaminate eggs.

Keeping this material from eggs is essential in keeping them free of potential disease transmission.

Texas A&M adds that producers should, “be sure to clean all equipment of organic matter (which reduces the effectiveness of disinfectants).”

While production methods are constantly being improved upon to keep new chicks safe and healthy at the hatchery, good biosecurity management steps are also used to keep consumer eggs clean in the marketplace.

“While the biosecurity process is complex, egg farmers’ dedication to disease prevention is rigorous,” United Egg Producers said. “Biosecurity reflects a variety of measures and best practices relied on by U.S. egg farmers to assure hens are healthy and to prevent disease from entering egg farms. Egg farmers have put an array of biosecurity protocols in place on their farms, from limiting visitors and setting up perimeter zones to monitoring flock health and sanitizing vehicles and equipment.”

Clean eggs are at the epicenter of keeping flocks, as well as consumer products safe and free from disease.

“Providing excellent care of their hens and preventing disease on their farms is of the utmost importance to America’s commercial egg farmers,” said Chad Gregory, UEP president.

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