Livestock and Poultry - 9.4 Egg Handling
If eggs are not produced, collected and stored properly, contamination of the egg can occur.
This good agricultural practice applies to all non-quota egg farms. Farms that hold quota are required to follow the British Columbia Egg Marketing Board requirements and are not included here.
What Needs to Be Done
Manage flock, collect and store eggs properly to reduce contamination from occurring.
How to Do It
- Collect eggs daily at a minimum and more frequently in warmer or extreme weather. As most hens lay the majority of eggs by 10:00 am, it is best to collect them as soon as possible after they are laid to reduce the opportunity for bacterial growth.
- Collect eggs in clean trays, baskets or containers. If trays are made of cardboard and cannot be cleaned, they should be used only once and then discarded. If they are made of metal wire and plastic coating, and are reused, make sure to wash and clean them properly with appropriate sanitizers.
- Handle eggs carefully to prevent cracking. If collecting eggs in baskets, remove them from baskets evenly.
- Remove all eggs that are cracked, leaking or extremely dirty (fecally contaminated) as they are likely to be contaminated with bacteria. Dispose of them appropriately or send them to a breaker plant for further processing.
Cleaning & Grading
- Do not cool eggs rapidly before they are cleaned, as the shell will contract and pull any dirt or bacteria on the surface into the pores of the egg.
- Clean the eggs as soon as you collect them. This eliminates sources of contamination and loss of interior quality. Wash eggs with potable water 10 degrees warmer than the egg. This will make the egg contents swell and push the dirt away from the pores of the egg. If the eggs are extremely dirty a mild detergent approved for egg washing can be used. NEVER let eggs sit in water, as once the temperature equalizes the egg can absorb contaminants from the water.
- Dry and cool eggs quickly after washing, store in a refrigerator at <10°C.
- Separate floor eggs from nest/cage eggs.
- If you are selling eggs beyond the farm gate, they must be graded according to BC Shell Egg Grading Regulation.
- Sort uncracked, undamaged eggs on clean surfaces, and store them in clean containers.
- Store eggs in a refrigerator (<10°C and 70-75% relative humidity) as soon as possible after collecting and cleaning.
- Store cleaned eggs with the small end down to keep the air cell stable during storage.
- Label cartons with the farm name and address so you can identify your eggs.
- Date the tray/carton so you can use or sell the oldest eggs first. Try to use or sell all eggs before they are three weeks old.
- Never store eggs with odorous materials, as eggs absorb odours from other foods (e.g. fish, onions) or from chemicals.
- Never leave eggs at room temperatures as warm, dry environments will cause decreased interior quality and increases food safety risks.
- Store empty egg trays off the floor.
- Keep the flock in a fenced area so they cannot hide their eggs from daily collection.
- Keep the environment clean and dry which will keep the eggs clean. A muddy run, or damp and dirty nesting material will result in dirty, stained eggs.
- Maintain a pest control program to keep pests away from the hen house. Pests carry Salmonella and can contaminate the nesting boxes and eggs.
Records to Keep
- Temperature monitoring record, or your own record that includes:
- Temperature, and
- Pest control program records
- Water quality lab-test results for on-site water systems
- Annual flock environment lab-tests for Salmonella Enteritis (SE)
If you Need an Audit
Be prepared for the auditor to review:
- temperature Monitoring Records for egg storage,
- all lab-test results for water quality and Salmonella Enteritis, and
- pest control records.
Laws & Regulations that Apply
- The Shell Egg Grading Regulation, Reg. 105/78, s. 2 (1) under the Agricultural Produce Grading Act prohibits sale within BC of eggs for human consumption except eggs graded and marked in accordance with Canada Agricultural Products Act and Regulations, with a few exceptions. S. 2 (2) allows a producer to sell eggs that are not graded and marked as required if the eggs are produced on the producer’s own farm, and are sold or offered for sale directly to consumers at the producer’s farm or place of residence. S. 3 (8) provides that eggs that do not comply with the standards set out in Canada Agricultural Products Act and Regulations shall be destroyed or packed in containers bearing the words “Reject – Not for Human Consumption”. S. 11 (11) states that no person shall purchase or sell, or offer for sale rejects for use as food, or in the preparation of food, for human consumption.
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