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California Egg Quality Assurance Plan
An Animal Production Food Safety Program

The California Egg Quality Assurance Program is a voluntary Pre-harvest Food Safety program designed to ensure product quality and food safety associated with salmonella and chemical residues in eggs.  The program contains core components which form the basis of a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan.  Training, record-keeping, and research are integral components in documenting the success of the program.

Each participant will implement an approved CEQAP plan specific to their operation.  Farm and processing facilities will be annually reviewed by California Department of Food and Agriculture veterinarians to ensure compliance with the program components.

Core Components

A.   Administrative
1.  Develop a written farm/premises flock egg quality assurance plan.
2.  Designate an official quality control supervisor(s) for in-house operations.
a) The official quality control supervisor supervisor(s) shall attend one continuing education session  every year.

B.  Production
1.  Purchase chicks and pullets from hatcheries participating in the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) “U.S. Salmonella enteritidis Monitored Program” or equivalent state plan.  Chicks should be delivered with a certifying letter.  Started pullets must be obtained from sources with an acceptable salmonella prevention and control program.

2. Chicks and pullets should always be transported in coops and trucks that are cleaned and disinfected between flocks.

3. Obtain feed from mills that follow accepted feed industry “Good Manufacturing Practices” and the “Recommended Salmonella Control for Processors of Livestock and Poultry Feeds, 1988”, published by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), 1501 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1100, Arlington, VA 22209 or an equivalent.

4.  Use only animal protein ingredients originating from rendering plants participating in the Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI) Salmonella Reduction Education Program or equivalent.

5.  If used, medications, feed additives and pesticides must be administered adhering to approved label directions.

6.  Maintain a flock health program to include vaccinations, monitoring and periodic necropsy of mortality or cull birds.
a) Maintain a vaccination program to protect against infection with Salmonella enteritidis (SE) which includes a killed or inactivated vaccine, or a demonstrated equivalent SE vaccination program as determined by a licensed veterinarian.

7.  Maintain a farm rodent monitoring and reduction program.

8.  Pullet and layer buildings will be cleaned and disinfected before restocking by wet or dry methods.  Third-party visual inspection of cleaning and disinfection is required by an official quality control supervisor(s).

9.  The farm will maintain an appropriate biosecurity plan to maintain flock health and will train employees on proper procedures to execute the program.  Document employee training and comprehension annually. At a minimum this plan will address:
a)  Training of employees including documentation
b)  Premises security 
c)  People movement including visitors
d)  Disposal of manure, mortality, trash and spent fowl.
e)  Vehicle, equipment and supply movement and sanitation (Cleaning & Disinfecting) in the secure poultry area.

10.   Implement a Salmonella enteritidis environmental monitoring program which includes the following testing protocols:

  1. Testing of chick papers at delivery
  2. Environmental Test at 14 – 16 weeks
  3. Environmental Test at 40 – 45 weeks
  4. Environmental Test at 4 – 6 weeks post molt
  5. Environmental Test pre depopulation

C.  Processing
1.  Follow plant operating guidelines:
a)  Facilities and equipment must be kept clean and in good repair and shall be completely washed at the end of each day’s operation.
b)  Lighting and equipment should be adequate to properly identify egg defects in the processing area.
c)  Potable water with less than 2 ppm of iron shall be used for egg washing.
d) Wash water shall be maintained at 90 degrees Fahrenheit or higher and at least 20 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the temperature of the eggs to be washed.
e)  A USDA approved cleaning compound shall be used in the wash water.
f)  USDA was water guidelines shall be followed.
g)  Washed eggs shall be spray rinsed with warm water and a USDA approved sanitizer.
h)  If eggs are to be oiled, follow USDA guidelines.

2.  Refrigerate eggs according to applicable federal, state or local laws.

3.  Label egg cartons according to applicable federal, state or local laws.

4. The plant will maintain an appropriate biosecurity plan to limit cross contamination by egg flats, pallets, racks or other materials that are returned to ranches.  Plastic egg flats must be washed and sanitized after each use and must be returned to the originating farm.  Fiber egg flats cannot be sanitized and thus must be destroyed after first use.

5. The plant will maintain an appropriate biosecurity plan to limit cross contamination of unprocessed and processed eggs.  New egg cartons and fiber flats should be used for all consumer packages.

At a minimum the plan must address:
a) Training of employees including documentation
b)  Premises security.
c)  People movement including visitors.
d) Vehicle, equipment and supply movement and sanitation (Cleaning & Disinfecting) related to the egg processing plant.

6. No returned product shall be reprocessed for retail shell egg sales

Developed by the California Egg Industry in Cooperation with:

  • California Department of Food and Agriculture

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • U.C. Cooperative Extension Service

  • California Veterinary

  • Diagnostic Laboratory System

  • California Department of Health Services

  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration

For more information please contact the PEPA office.

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