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Egg graders

Egg graders are businesses that wash eggs and/or conduct the final crack detection before sale.

Licensing, registration

Egg graders are required to:

  1. apply for a Food Authority licence online or download an application (PDF, 426 KB), print and post it
  2. prepare for regular audits.

You must not commence operations until you are informed that your licence application has been approved. If the premises are found to be operating without a licence, enforcement action may be taken.

Skills & knowledge

There are no formal qualifications required for egg graders, however each food handler and person in control of a food business is required to have food safety skills and knowledge appropriate to their food handling activities.

See FSANZ guide chapter 3.2.2 Division 2 in Safe Food Australia.

Full requirements are set out in the Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2 - Food Safety Practices and General Requirements, clause 3.

Construction & facilities

Construction and layout of a food premise must be designed to minimise the opportunity for food contamination.

Egg graders should:

  • design and construct the premises, equipment and transport vehicles to:
    • minimise the risk of eggs being contaminated
    • allow for premises, equipment and transport vehicles to be effectively cleaned and sanitised
    • minimise the harbourage of pests
  • properly maintain premises, equipment and transport vehicles in good working order.

All fixtures, fittings and equipment must be fit for their intended use.

Hygiene & handling

Egg graders must take all reasonable measures not to handle food or surfaces likely to come into contact with food in a way that is likely to compromise the safety and suitability of food.

Food businesses must ensure there are adequate facilities for food handlers to wash their hands. Hand wash facilities must be only used for washing hands, arms and face and should include warm running water, soap (or soap alternative) and single-use hand towel.

If a food handler believes they could have or be a carrier of a food borne illness they must advise their supervisor and ensure they do not handle food that they could contaminate as a result of the disease.

Food handlers must ensure all food contact surfaces are kept clean and adequately protected from contamination.

See FSANZ guide chapter 3.2.2 Division 4 in Safe Food Australia.

For more information, see also our fact sheets:

Full requirements are set out in Food Standards Code, Standard 3.2.2, Division 4 - Health and Hygiene.

Food safety controls

Storage of eggs

Eggs should be stored at less than 15ºC and retail packed (where applicable) within 96 hours of lay, or stored at an equivalent temperature/time combination to maintain the suitability of eggs. For example, eggs stored at 20ºC should be packed within 48 hours of lay.

Daily product and/or air temperature records (eg using a thermometer or a continuous data logger record) should be maintained to demonstrate eggs are being stored and maintained properly.

Approved supplier program – receiving eggs

Businesses that receive eggs must only accept eggs that have been protected from the likelihood of contamination.

To comply with this requirement egg graders should:

  1. only purchase eggs from reputable suppliers
  2. maintain a contact list (ie names and business address) of all their suppliers.

Approved supplier program – Other inputs

Other inputs that may potentially contaminate eggs must be suitable for contact with food. These include:

  • packaging materials
  • detergents and sanitisers used in the egg wash water
  • oil used in the oiling of eggs.

To comply with this requirement egg graders should obtain information from their suppliers that demonstrates all inputs are suitable for contact with food.

Sale & processing of dirty eggs

Dirty eggs must not be sold for retail sale. Dirty eggs must be either:

  1. cleaned so that visible faeces, soil and other matter is removed from the shell
  2. sold to a licensed egg business, or
  3. discarded.

Discarded dirty eggs should be disposed of hygienically and away from clean, intact eggs.

Dry cleaning dirty eggs

Egg graders should use material that is dry, clean and not reused for cleaning eggs.

For this reason disposable paper towels are recommended.

If a dry cloth is used, an adequate supply should be available so that only clean cloth is passed over the egg each time.

Dirty cloths should be cleaned and sanitised after each use.

If an alternative material is used for this process, it should be suitable for contact with food.

Washing dirty eggs

Egg shells are porous, and washing can allow microorganisms to enter through the pores of the shell.

If a negative pressure is created within the egg, it may draw wash water into the egg. Therefore, wash water should be held at an appropriate temperature and pH to minimise the potential for contamination to occur.

The washing process should also be continuous, so that eggs are not allowed to stand or soak in the wash water, and eggs should be dried after washing. If egg shells are left wet the risk of microorganisms entering the egg is increased.

Egg graders that wash eggs must have a documented procedure for this process to ensure that contamination from the wash water is minimised.

This procedure should outline:

  • the temperature of the water to be used at all stages of the washing process with appropriate temperature differentials observed. For example, in a three-stage wash process the wash water should be:
    • between 41 and 44°C
    • the sanitising water temperature should be 2 to 3°C higher than the wash water temperature, and
    • the rinsing water temperature should be 2 to 3°C higher than the sanitising water temperature
  • the pH of the wash water (eg pH 10.5 to be obtained)
  • the detergent / sanitiser concentration
  • the corrective action for non-compliance with the washing temperatures or pH values
  • the egg drying process following washing.

The pH and temperature of the water at all stages of the washing process must be recorded for each batch of eggs washed.

Crack detection

All eggs intended for sale must undergo crack detection using candling or an equivalent demonstrated method of crack detection.

Visual crack detection without a backlight is not acceptable.

Egg graders that conduct crack detection must have a documented procedure for the detection and segregation of cracked eggs. This procedure should outline:

  • the method of crack detection used (eg candling) and the parameters used to identify cracked eggs
  • the method used to verify the effectiveness of crack detection
  • the corrective action to be taken when cracked eggs are identified (eg all cracked eggs must be segregated from whole intact eggs)
  • how cracked eggs are labelled for traceability.

Records must be kept of the date of egg production and quantity of cracked eggs identified.

Storage of cracked eggs

Eggs that have undergone crack detection and have been identified as cracked must be stored to prevent or minimise the growth of Salmonella.

Temperature control must be implemented to prevent the breakdown of the yolk membrane, and consequently prevent any contaminating Salmonella from growing.

Sale & use of cracked eggs

Cracked (including broken) eggs must not be made available for retail sale or catering purposes.

Egg graders that sell eggs that have been identified as cracked must demonstrate that they are only sold to a licensed egg business by maintaining a copy of the purchaser’s current licence.

The following records must be kept for the sale of cracked eggs:

  • the names and addresses of the person or businesses to whom the eggs are sold
  • the dates on which the eggs are sold
  • the lot identification numbers of the eggs sold
  • the quantity of eggs sold.

Food Safety Program

Egg graders are required under Standard 3.2.1 of the Food Standards Code to implement a documented food safety management program.

A food safety program is a written document that shows a business has examined their food production activities and identified all potential food safety hazards.

It outlines:

  • how hazards are controlled
  • corrective action if they are not controlled
  • regular review processes
  • appropriate record keeping.

The Food Authority has developed a template food safety program which should be adapted for your business requirements.

Labelling

The following core information to identify the food needs to be provided with each delivery of eggs sold for non-retail sale:

  • the name of the food
  • the egg grader's business name and address
  • lot identification (date marking may be used in lieu of the lot identification).

Requirements for product  labelling apply, as set out in Food Standards Code, Chapter 1, Part 1.2 - Labelling and other Information Requirements and the FSANZ labelling user guides.

For an introduction and Food Authority factsheets see labelling

Egg stamping

From November 2014, all eggs must be uniquely and individually stamped with the producer's unique identifier (usually a number or code) so they can be traced back to the producer.

See the factsheets:

The Food Authority can supply a free manual egg stamp and one pack of five ink refills to 300 small producers (those who produce fewer than 1000 eggs per day).

The stamps are self inking and have a pre-assigned code. The producer needs to purchase ongoing ink refills, and repair or replace the stamper (if required).

Businesses who want a free egg stamp need to email their name, phone number and postal address, to eggstamp@foodauthority.nsw.gov.au or call the Helpline on 1300 552 406.

Egg businesses

Egg businesses wanting to use recycled water are required to apply in writing to the Food Authority. Applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Egg graders that use non-reticulated water in the washing of eggs must have the water quality tested in accordance with the NSW Food Safety Schemes Manual.

The NSW Food Safety Schemes Manual specifies microbiological testing requirements for non-reticulated water, specifically E.coli.

Businesses that use a non-reticulated water supply and treat the water with chlorine or another suitable method are required to test this water daily for residual chlorine levels and maintain records of the water treatment. Food Safety Officers will review monitoring records and test results.

Egg businesses which have their water tested must:

  • have any analysis paid for at the licence holder’s expense
  • have any analysis conducted by a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) or Food Authority approved laboratory
  • notify the Food Authority if an analysed sample fails to meet the standards as detailed in the Manual or those set by the Food Authority
  • notify the Food Authority verbally within 24 hours and in writing within seven days of becoming aware of the sample failure
  • provide microbiological verification for hygienic processing, and hygiene and sanitation, to demonstrate that processing and cleaning are meeting the required standard.

Inspections & audits

Egg graders will be routinely inspected by the Food Authority for compliance with requirements.

Compliance or regulatory action will be taken if required.

There are fees for audits and inspections, payable by the licence holder.

For more information, see audits of licensed businesses

Legislation & standards

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