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Survey of Shell Egg Processing Plant Sanitation Programs: Effects on Non–Egg-Contact Surfaces

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To successfully implement a hazard analysis critical control point plan, prerequisite programs are essential. Sanitation standard operating procedures are an important part of such a plan and can reduce contamination levels so that food safety and quality are not adversely affected. Noncontact surfaces in the shell egg processing plants can serve as a reservoir of crosscontamination. The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of sanitation programs used in a variety of shell egg processing facilities (in-line, off-line, and mixed operations). Fourteen different noncontact surfaces were sampled in nine commercial facilities across the southeastern United States. Non–egg-contact surfaces were defined as those where the shell egg does not come into direct contact with the surface or with the fluid from that surface. Gauze pads soaked in sterile phosphate-buffered saline were used for sampling at the end of a processing day (POST) and again the next morning prior to operations (PRE). Aerobic plate counts (APCs) and numbers of Enterobacteriaceae were determined. No significant differences (P > 0.05) were found between POST and PRE counts for either population recovered from the 14 sampling sites. Only samples from the floor under the farm belts, nest-run loader, washers, and packer heads were reduced by 1 log CFU/ml of rinsate for APCs or Enterobacteriaceae counts. APCs of more than 10 4 CFU/ml of rinsate were recovered from many samples. Highest APCs were found on the floor under the farm belt and on shelves of the nest-run carts. High APCs were found on the wheel surface for off-line carts and on the loading dock floor. Highest Enterobacteriaceae counts were found in samples from the floor, drain, and nest-run egg cart shelves. A lack of significant difference between POST and PRE counts indicates that current sanitation programs could be improved. These data suggest that traffic patterns for the movement of eggs and materials through the plant should be reevaluated so that cross-contamination is reduced.

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: 1: Russell Research Center, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA 2: Department of Poultry Science, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama 36849, USA 3: Department of Poultry Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina 27695, USA 4: Department of Poultry Science, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30604, USA

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