SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- As more than 500 million Iowa-produced eggs are being recalled nationally, California-produced eggs have been free of Salmonella enteritidis for more than ten years and experts point to the state's California Egg Quality Assurance Program (CEQAP) as the primary reason.
"This is the country's most stringent quality control program designed to ensure the safety and quality of California-produced eggs and its success proves it is," said Arnie Riebli, president of the Association of California Egg Farmers. He added, "The California egg industry has long been focused on food safety which is why we worked with the science community and governmental agencies to develop and implement the Egg Quality Assurance program way back in 1995."
Not only is CEQAP recognized as one of the nation's – if not the nation's – most stringent egg quality program, it was recognized by then-Vice President Al Gore with the prestigious "Hammer Award" for reinventing government. The CEQAP is comprised of 20 components which must be met and includes review of egg operations by CDFA veterinarians to ensure compliance. Its requirements are more extensive than the egg safety regulations recently implemented by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The California program requires five salmonella enteridis tests (FDA only requires three).
The program also requires that chicks and pullets can only be purchased from hatcheries participating in the National Poultry Improvement Plan to prevent salmonella enteritidis; requires environmental testing of the birds throughout the chicken's lifespan beginning at 14 to 16 weeks and continuing regularly at 40 to 45 weeks, four to six weeks after molt and two weeks at the end of the egg cycle. The voluntary program, involving 95 percent of the state's egg producers, also includes a strong educational component that does not exist in the FDA program. Twice a year CEQAP participants meet to review scientific advances in the areas of egg production and processing. The CEQAP program was established with the cooperation and participation of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; the United States Department of Agriculture; the California Department of Health Services; the Food and Drug Administration; the California Animal Health and Food Safety System; and the University of California Cooperative Extension Service.
"Consumers can buy California-produced eggs with confidence because the California Egg Quality Assurance Program was designed and implemented to provide the nation's safest supply of eggs and has been in effect for more than fifteen years," said Richard Matteis, Administrator, California Farm Bureau Federation, which has been involved in the program since its inception.
For more information about the California Egg Quality Assurance Program visit: www.pacificegg.org/
SOURCE Association of California Egg Farmers