Producing Safe-to-Eat Table Eggs


Professor Nick Sparks - January 2014.

Hens outdoor

Egg contents can be heavily contaminated with food poisoning organisms, without any tell-tale signs. It is important that the risk of Salmonella contaminating the egg while it is being formed inside the bird is reduced by using an appropriate vaccination programme. Similarly, the risk of contamination with food poisoning organisms after the egg is laid will be reduced if the shell is kept free of faecal material or soil.

Maximising the Number of Nest Clean Eggs

  • Train birds to use the nest boxes as they come into lay.
  • Collect the eggs from the poultry house at least two times a day, and more frequently around peak production.
  • Ensure that the nest box is kept clean (e.g. if using white wood shavings remove wet or dirty shavings and replenish with clean).
  • Sanitise hands before collecting eggs.
  • Collect nest-clean eggs before dirty eggs.
  • Collect eggs on to clean trays or similar.
  • If re-using trays do not use trays that have been used to collect dirty eggs for collecting clean eggs.
  • Do not wipe the shell with either a wet or dry cloth – water helps bacteria move through the shell.
  • If eggs are to be washed this needs to be done according to recognised protocols if the risk of contamination is not to be increased.
  • Manage the paddock so that the ground does not become muddy – particularly around the pop-holes. If the ground is muddy immediately outside the house it is likely that the birds will bring contaminants into the house and nest box.

The points above reduce the risk of bacteria moving across the shell into the egg contents. It is also important that birds are vaccinated against Salmonella as this will reduce the risk of contamination before the egg is laid.

This Technical Summary is funded by the Scottish Government

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