<p>1. Evaluate the role of various production and management systems and storage and processing practices on egg safety (and quality). This project focuses on critical points that may influcence USDA shell egg grade standards and federally mandated conditions.</p>
<p>2. Evaluate the role of various production and management systems on the detection, transmission, and persistence of Salmonella spp. in eggs and the surrounding production environment (e.g. flocks and house contamination).</p>
<p>3. Evaluate the role of various production and management systems on the effectiveness of shell egg processing guidelines utilized in the U.S.</p>
Approach: Egg safety and quality issues often initiate in production and storage before entering the processing facility. There is a need for a farm-to-fork approach to product safety and quality, especially in light of new federal regulations and increased interest in alternative housing systems to replace housing hens in cages. Research will serve todayâ€™s fully integrated and streamlined egg industry most effectively if it covers the full scope of egg production to processing. Additionally, strategies to assist small flock egg producers enhance product safety and quality will also be developed. These goals will be accomplished by assessing the role of production systems on naturally occurring flora and pathogens in and on shell eggs, evaluating the effects of federally mandated storage conditions on the microbial and physical quality of eggs from various production systems, and developing processing and storage options for small flock egg producers to ensure egg safety and quality. The poultry house environment plays a highly significant role in Salmonella infections of laying flocks. This research will determine how different production systems for housing laying hens affect the transmission and persistence of experimentally introduced Salmonella infection or house contamination and the associated frequency and nature of egg contamination. It will also determine how different production systems affect the detection of Salmonella in laying flocks and their housing environment, and evaluate the performance of testing methodologies for detecting S. Enteritidis and other Salmonella spp. in flocks and eggs from different production systems to develop rapid, sensitive, and cost-effective testing strategies.