HARRISBURG, Pa., Aug. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania eggs certified under a voluntary best production practices program meet some of the nation's highest safety standards, Agriculture Secretary Russell C. Redding said today.
Under the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program, or PEQAP, producers implement management and monitoring practices designed to reduce the risk of Salmonella Enteritidis contamination of eggs.
"With a nationwide egg recall raising renewed concerns about safety, I urge consumers to seek out eggs produced in Pennsylvania," said Redding. "By purchasing eggs produced under the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program, consumers can be assured that the eggs meet high safety standards while supporting Pennsylvania farmers and the state's economy."
PEQAP helps ensure that basic food safety preventative measures are used, including cleaning and disinfecting between flocks, environmental monitoring of production facilities and maintaining an acceptable biosecurity program. Eggs must be refrigerated throughout production and distribution.
In place for more than 15 years as a successful preventive measure, PEQAP was the model upon which the federal Food and Drug Administration's new egg rule was based. The rule, published in July, requires preventive measures during the production, storage and transportation of the nation's egg supply.
"Thanks to the efforts of Pennsylvania's egg producers, the success of Pennsylvania's egg quality program in preventing salmonella contamination has led to national efforts to ensure consumer confidence in egg production and consumption," said Redding.
To ensure you're using Pennsylvania-produced eggs, look for the PA Preferred logo, which is a gold checkmark in a blue keystone. PA Preferred is the Department of Agriculture's branding program that helps consumers easily identify locally sourced products. PA Preferred companies can be found at www.papreferred.com.
All PA Preferred eggs must be produced under Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance program guidelines. Consumers should practice proper food safety handling practices when using eggs, including keeping eggs and food containing eggs refrigerated, never eating raw or undercooked eggs, and sanitizing hands when preparing eggs.
Valued at $487.5 million, Pennsylvania's egg industry—the fourth-largest in the nation—plays a major role in the state's economy. Pennsylvania is home to 21.5 million hens producing 6.2 billion eggs each year.
For more information about the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program, visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and search "PEQAP."
Media contact: Nicole L. C. Bucher, 717-787-5085
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture