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Egg producers

Egg producers are businesses or farms that produce more than 20 dozen eggs for sale in any week.

These businesses may also assess eggs for quality (eg. by weight, size) and dry clean dirty eggs.

Licensing, registration

Egg producers need to:

  • apply for a Food Authority licence online (or download a form, print and post it) 
  • prepare for and be regularly audited.

Egg producers producing fewer than 100 dozen eggs per week are entitled to a licence fee waiver and a one-off licence application fee waiver. This is calculated as part of the licence application.

You must not commence operations until you are informed that your licence application has been processed. 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 producers, 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.

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

Construction & facilities

Egg producers should:

  • design and construct the premises, equipment and transport vehicles to:
    • minimise the risk of eggs being contaminated
    • allow for the 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
  • ensure drinkers are at a height that prevents fouling by birds.

Cleaning of premises and equipment

Egg producers should implement a cleaning schedule that identifies all equipment and fixtures (eg. laying sheds, feeders, drinkers) used in the production of eggs and outlines the frequency of cleaning.

Hygiene & handling

Egg producers should ensure staff wash their hands after handling sick or dead birds so that there is no cross contamination with live birds or eggs.

Cleaning

Egg producers should:

  • only use cleaning chemicals that are suitable for use in a food premises, when cleaning equipment and utensils that come into contact with eggs
  • use cleaning chemicals as per manufacturer’s instructions
  • label, store and handle cleaning chemicals to prevent contamination
  • supply the birds' primary drinking water from a clean, good quality source (eg no mould or algae)
  • store tank water for hen drinking in a manner that prevents contamination from pests, vermin and other foreign material
  • regularly clean drinkers
  • clean conveyors (if applicable) and equipment that comes into contact with eggs often enough to ensure they are free from heavy soiling (this includes brushes used to clean conveyors)
  • remove manure often enough to minimise cross contamination between egg, bird and manure
  • clean and sanitise sheds thoroughly between flocks to prevent Salmonella transmission.

Food safety controls

Food Safety Program

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

This shows a business has examined its food production activities and identified all potential food safety hazards. It outlines how these hazards are controlled, corrective action if they are not controlled, a schedule for regular reviews of the program, and appropriate records to be kept.

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

Biosecurity

Egg producers should implement the biosecurity standards outlined in the National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Poultry Production published by the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture.

Protective clothing (eg overalls, boot covers, dust masks) should be supplied to all staff and visitors to minimise external contamination.

Sanitised foot baths should be located at the entrance of the laying sheds (if applicable), with the concentration of the sanitiser maintained as per manufacturer’s instructions.

The daily bird mortality rate should be monitored as an indicator of disease within the flock. A daily mortality limit should be identified and documented (eg 0.1% mortalities per week). If the limit is exceeded, details of an investigation and any corrective action taken should be recorded.

Environmental surveillance

Egg producers should participate in the NSW Primary Industries Salmonella Enteritidis Monitoring Program.

Drinking water

Drinking water for birds, as well as cooling water used in sheds (if applicable), should be tested annually against the water standards outlined in the National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Poultry Production ie Total colony count . 1,000; E.coli (Faecal coliforms) NIL; Coliforms . 100

Egg collection

Eggs should be collected at least once per day.

Storage of eggs

Eggs should be stored at less than 15oC and supplied for retail packing (where applicable) within 96 hours of lay or stored at an equivalent temperature/time combination to maintain the suitability of eggs (outlined in Table 1). For example, eggs stored at 20oC should be supplied for packing within a maximum of 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 in accordance with the requirements. Temperature measuring devices should be easily accessible and demonstrate accuracy of ±1oC.

Stock food

Eggs may become contaminated if the layer hens are fed stock food that contains microbiological or chemical contaminants.

It is therefore important to ensure birds being kept to produce eggs intended for sale for human consumption are not fed any stock food that is likely to cause the eggs to be unsafe or unsuitable.

Egg producers should:

  • store stock food in a manner that prevents contamination from pests, vermin and other foreign materials (eg in sealed feed silos or in feed bags kept off the ground and sealed when not in use)
  • regularly clean feeders
  • keep records of the name and address of suppliers from whom feed is purchased, and the date and batch details of stock food deliveries.

Chemical contaminants

Eggs must not be sold for human consumption if they have come from a bird that has been administered a veterinary chemical product in contravention of the Stock Medicines Act 1989 or the Pesticides Act 1999.

Egg producers should:

  • use and store pesticides and veterinary medicines according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • maintain records to demonstrate observance with the correct withholding periods for veterinary medicines, including:
    • date treated
    • drug used
    • animal treated (eg shed number)
    • observance of withholding period.

Pest control

Egg producers should:

  • construct and maintain the laying environment, including feed and water storage facilities, to minimise the entry of pests and the congregation of wild birds
  • promptly remove dead birds from the laying environment and dispose of them in a designated facility on a daily basis
  • promptly remove sick birds from the laying environment and treat or cull them.

Egg collection

Egg producers should:

  • clean or discard egg collection trays that are visibly dirty, damp or contain egg liquid
  • remove and dispose of broken eggs (ie leakers) from the laying environment frequently enough to minimise any build-up of egg product and shell.

Litter

Egg producers should implement a litter management procedure that includes the clean-out of sheds between laying cycles and the removal of spent litter.

Use of cracked eggs

Cracked eggs must not be made available for retail sale or catering purposes (Standard 2.2.2 of the Code).

Egg producers should dispose of leakers hygienically away from clean intact eggs.

Processing of dirty eggs

Dirty eggs must not be sold for human consumption.

Dirty eggs must be:

  • dry cleaned so that visible faeces, soil or other matter is removed from the shell
  • sold to a licensed egg business
  • discarded.

Dry cleaning dirty eggs

To comply with this clause egg producers should clean dirty eggs with a dry cloth that is changed when visibly dirty. Dirty cloths should be cleaned and sanitised after each use. The material used to clean dirty eggs should be suitable for contact with food.

Eggs with visible faeces, soil or other matter that cannot be removed by dry cleaning should be segregated and disposed of hygienically away from clean intact eggs.

The Food Authority has developed Egg cleaning procedures to assist egg businesses meet the requirements.

Storage of eggs after collection

Egg producers should:

  • store dirty and cracked eggs separately from whole eggs to prevent or minimise the growth of Salmonella in eggs
  • minimise storage between egg collection and grading
  • store ungraded eggs at 8 degrees or less for extended periods.

Recommended practices

The Food Authority recommends that egg producers should also implement the following practices, which are not legally required, but considered good practice.

Receipt of sourced birds

Egg producers should keep records including:

  • names and addresses of the suppliers from whom birds are purchased
  • written advice that the hatchery from which any birds are purchased, participates in a Salmonella Enteritidis monitoring program
  • details of bird deliveries, including date and quantity, to allow for traceability
  • details of veterinary chemicals administered to birds at a hatchery (eg vaccinations and observance to any withholding periods).

Stock food

Incoming stock food should be purchased from reputable suppliers. Pellets or mash should be accompanied by a supplier declaration indicating they are free from harmful microbiological contaminants and chemical residues.

Labelling

Eggs must not be sold for retail sale unless crack detection (for visible and hairline cracks) has been undertaken by a licensed egg business authorised to conduct this activity.

Egg producers that sell eggs within NSW (including cracked and dirty eggs) must demonstrate that they are only sold to a licensed egg business by having a record of the customer's current Food Authority licence.

The following information to identify the food must be provided with each delivery of eggs sold (Standard 1.2.2 of the Code):

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

Also, other relevant information required by the rest of Part 1.2 Labelling and Other Information Requirements of the Code must be available to purchasers upon request. This other information helps purchasers comply with their own labelling requirements in the Code.

See FSANZ PART 1.2 Labelling and other Information Requirements and user guides.

Egg stamping

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

More information regarding egg stamping requirements can be found on the Egg Stamping page or Egg stamping for egg producers factsheet .

Testing

Drinking water

Drinking water for birds, as well as cooling water used in sheds (if applicable), should be tested annually against the water standards outlined in the National Farm Biosecurity Manual for Poultry Production ie Total colony count . 1,000; E.coli (Faecal coliforms) NIL; Coliforms . 100

No other routine microbiological or chemical testing of product is required of egg producers.

Inspections & audits

Egg producers 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 details see audits of licensed businesses.

Legislation & standards