The total US production of shell eggs each year exceeds 50 billion eggs (or 4.2 billion dozen). Of these an estimated 2.5 million eggs are contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis bacteria, causing over 660,000 illnesses and on average 100 deaths each year (as reported by the USDA). This health threatening issue is so critical that the FDA has mandated a warning statement on all shell egg cartons, which states: "To prevent illness from bacteria: Keep eggs refrigerated, cook until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly".<P> In many instances throughout the US, restaurants have posted signs notifying customers of the serious health risks of undercooking eggs or their unwillingness to prepare eggs to certain customer preferences. Given the threat to human safety and the surrounding negative publicity, it is also reasonable to expect that yearly sales of eggs by domestic producers have suffered. <P>The proposed Phase I/Phase II project seeks to remedy this situation by providing a process which is capable of meeting both regulatory and consumer requirements for providing a safe, nutritious and affordable supply of shell eggs.<P> Successful completion of the proposed study will prove that shell eggs can be processed at commercial speeds and meet USDA pasteurization standards without changing consumer important criteria such as appearance and taste. Additionally, this project will validate that production cost parameters will be in a range acceptable to both consumers and packers allowing for a gradual transition to 100% of the US shell egg supply.
Non-Technical Summary: The project will initially review current techniques available for similar measurements in other industries and evaluate their applicability to the egg pasteurization method shown in the patent. Subsequently a specific method will be customized for use in the technique as described in the patent. <P> Approach: Michigan Research Institute, in collaboration with Pasteurization Technologies Llc. Has developed a unique technology which will enable shell eggs to be pasteurized using conventional and microwave technologies. A patent application `Egg Pasteurization and Method' has been filed with the USPTO. Recent studies have demonstrated that the success of the technique is highly dependant on knowing the size and density of each individual yoke prior to processing.