Small-Scale                                           Egg Handling   A Publication of ATTRA—National Sustainable Agricultu...
in the nest the other eggs will get dirty.      are washed to avoid sweating. Sweating                         Methods to ...
Wet cleaning                                   Note that washing eggs can damage the                                      ...
In certified organic processing under the        Sanitizing                        National Organic Program, §205.605      ...
Brown eggs are more difficult to candle         recommended because it may allowthan white eggs due to the darker shell    ...
While the eggs are in wire baskets or                                 plastic egg crates, shower them generously          ...
square inch. The system is made to fit in                                                        a 5-gallon bucket, which a...
soap because it is too harsh. Dishwashers      water is added to maintain a continuous                 may be able to clea...
lifter to load six eggs at a time on the can-     Candlers and gradersdler section. The grader bolts onto the far         ...
Small specialty producers should sell              Government regulations                       their eggs within seven da...
in terms of washing, candling and tem-              • Facility pest management thatperature requirements during storage   ...
Plamondon, Robert. 2000. “Egg washers, candling,                Eugene, OR 97440&c.” Online Posting, 23 Dec. 2000. Yahooo ...
sanitizer washer EBEW 1-5 (max. capacity: 5 cases/           scale, washer, wash powder, brushes. Product    hr). Detergen...
NotesPage 14   ATTRA   Small-Scale Egg Handling   ATTRA   Page 15
Small-Scale Egg Handling                  By Anne Fanatico, Ph.D., and Betsy Conner                  NCAT Poultry Speciali...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5

Small-Scale Egg Handling


Published on

Small-Scale Egg Handling

Published in: Education, Business, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Small-Scale Egg Handling

  1. 1. Small-Scale Egg Handling A Publication of ATTRA—National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service • 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.orgBy Anne Fanatico, Ph.D., Many small-scale egg producers sell specialty eggs, such as free-range or organic eggs, to the public atand Betsy Conner farmers’ markets and other venues and need to wash the eggs or prepare the eggs for market. Immers-NCAT Poultry Specialists ing or soaking the eggs in water is not recommended, but small- and medium-scale egg washers that© 2009 NCAT use brushes and sprayers are very expensive. Small producers often use low-tech methods to clean eggs, including dry cleaning, dipping and spraying or pouring. Small producers should also candle and grade eggs to ensure high quality.ContentsIntroduction ..................... 1Keeping eggs clean ....... 1Egg collection.................. 2Cleaning ............................ 2Candling ............................ 4Grading .............................. 5Methods for washing,candling, andgrading .............................. 5Storage anddistribution....................... 9Site facility ...................... 10Egg products ................. 10Government regulationsand grading .................... 10Organic egghandling .......................... 11Conclusion ...................... 11 Introduction systems, see ATTRA’s Alternative Poultry Production Systems and Outdoor Access. WReferences ...................... 11Further resources ......... 12 hile information on large-scale egg washing and handling is readily Keeping eggs clean available, there is less informa- Egg washing is an important issue in alter- tion available on handling eggs on a small native poultry production systems because or medium scale. This publication covers eggs often become dirtier in free-range proactive methods to keep free-range eggs systems than in cages. Dust, mud, feces, clean through egg collection, egg cleaning, feathers and contents from broken eggsATTRA—National Sustainable candling and grading. You should be aware may soil as many as 30 percent of eggs inAgriculture Information Service of your state’s regulations on the sale of eggs( is managed free-range systems (Parkhurst and Mount-by the National Center for Appro- so you will know what practices are required.priate Technology (NCAT) and is ney, 1988). Free-range systems should Information on substances approved for use infunded under a grant from the minimize mud on pastures and makeUnited States Department of organic production and equipment suppliersAgriculture’s Rural Business- provisions such as pallets, straw or gravel is listed in the Further resources section atCooperative Service. Visit the at the entrance of the bird doorways toNCAT Web site ( the end of this publication.sarc_current.php) for clean the feet of hens entering the poul-more information onour sustainable agri- For information on producing eggs in alter- try house. It is also important to maintainculture projects. native and free-range poultry production clean nesting material. If eggs are broken
  2. 2. in the nest the other eggs will get dirty. are washed to avoid sweating. Sweating Methods to prevent broken eggs include occurs when eggs are moved from cold collecting eggs often, using a nest with a storage to a warm environment. Conden- sloping floor (roll away nest) so that eggs sation on the surface of the egg facilitates roll to a separate collection area and the movement of microbes inside the shell allowing access to the nests only during due to moisture. In the past, eggs were the morning when most birds lay. Hens held in plastic-coated wire baskets so that should not sleep in nest boxes because the air could circulate freely among the the hens will defecate. That dirties the eggs and cool them. Now, eggs are also eggs and prevents them from rolling out, held in fi berboard fl ats that hold 30 eggs increasing the potential for breakage. per fl at. Misshapen, cracked, broken or Some nest boxes have a grill or door to extremely dirty eggs should be separated keep birds out during the night, and suffi- from clean eggs. cient perch space will allow birds to roost at night rather than sleep in nest boxes. Manual egg gathering is labor intensive. Provide a sufficient nest area to prevent An egg cart, filler f lats and a nearby hens from laying eggs on the floor where storage site will help reduce labor. InRelated ATTRA the eggs are easily soiled. If individual mechanized egg collection, a moving beltPublications nest boxes are used, allow no more than brings the eggs to a section of the house 5 hens per nest box. If communal nest where the eggs can be packed into f lats.Alternative Poultry boxes are used, follow the manufacturer’s Eggs are positioned in the f lat with theProduction Systems recommendations. The Freedom Food small end down, the same position theyand Outdoor Access program in the UK allows 1 square meter should be in the carton as well. Roll-awayGrowing Your Range for 120 hens in communal nest boxes. nests simplify egg collection because thePoultry Business: This can be calculated as 11 hens for a eggs can roll from the sloped floor of theAn Entrepreneur’s square foot. Nests should be designed or nest to a collection area or belt.Toolbox oriented to allow birds to avoid brightly litOrganic Poultry areas during lay; some nests use curtains Eggs are ideally packed within 24 hoursProduction in the for darkening. after they are laid. U.S. Department ofUnited States Agriculture (USDA) rules require thatPoultry: Equipment for Egg collection eggs be packed within 30 days of lay. InAlternative Production programs that assure high quality, eggs In laying operations, most of the eggs are usually packed within 3 to 7 daysRange Poultry are generally laid within five hours of the of lay. It is important to remember notHousing fi rst light in the morning. Collect eggs often — twice in the morning and once to store eggs in coolers with items that in the afternoon — to help decrease the give off odors, such as onions and citrus, number of dirty and broken eggs and because the eggs can pick up the odor start cooling eggs (Bigbee and Froning, through the shell’s pores. 1997). Collection should be more fre- quent in very hot or cold weather. Eggs Cleaning should be held at 60 degrees Fahrenheit Eggs are cleaned to remove debris and and 70 percent relative humidity before stains and reduce the microbial load. cleaning. Eggs stored at room temper- Excessively dirty eggs should not be ature, about 75 degrees, can drop as cleaned, but rather discarded. much as one grade per day. Embryos can start to develop in fertile eggs held at a temperature above 85 degrees for Dry cleaning more than a few hours (Parkhurst and A slightly dirty egg can be brushed with an Mountney, 1988). Keep egg tempera- egg brush or rubbed with a sanding sponge ture relatively constant until the eggs and sandpaper.Page 2 ATTRA Small-Scale Egg Handling
  3. 3. Wet cleaning Note that washing eggs can damage the cuticle or bloom, the waxy layer thatNaturally, the egg has good defenses to seals the pores and helps keep out bac-help protect the embryo during incubation. teria. Older egg production books doThe shell is covered by a waxy layer (the not recommend washing eggs at all. Incuticle) that helps prevent microbes from the past, it was important to protect theentering the pores that allow the passage cuticle because refrigeration was notof gases. The cuticle is not impenetrable always possible.and water on the surface of the egg shellcan undermine these defenses becausewater helps bacteria pass through the shell Prewettingpores into the egg. If the period of contact Wetting or lightly spraying the eggs withbetween egg and water is short, there will warm water, about 104 degrees, prior tobe little microbial penetration into the egg washing will help loosen debris on the(Zeidler, 2002). Therefore it is important shell (Hutchison et al., 2003).to limit the amount of time that the shellis wet. Soaking eggs in water for as little Washing Nas 1 to 3 minutes can allow microbes to Eggs should be washed in water that is at ote thatpenetrate the shell (Zeidler, 2002). least 20 degrees warmer than the warm- washingAlthough the USDA does not allow immer- est eggs, and the water should be at least eggs cansion washing (allowing eggs to stand or 90 degrees. This is to prevent water that damage the cuticlesoak in water), most small producers is cooler than the egg from forcing the or bloom, the waxyare not operating under USDA require- egg contents to contract and pull water layer that seals thements. Most operate under exemptions to and microbes through the shell into pores and helpsstate egg laws and washing methods are the egg and cause contamination. How- keep out bacteria.usually not specified. Small-scale egg ever, the wash water should not be morewashing should take place with a continuous than 40 degrees above the temperaturefl ow of water, such as dipping, spraying of the eggs or the eggs may experienceor pouring, that allows the water to drain thermal cracking.away from the eggs. Cleaners can be helpful in the washingOnly potable water should be used for process. According to the Food and Drugcleaning. According to the USDA, iron Administration (FDA) the ingredients inlevels in the water must not be higher the material used to clean eggs must bethan 2 parts per million (ppm). Egg white Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). Thedoes not contain iron and this helps ingredients must also be a substance that isprevent microbial growth, but if iron regulated as a food additive (USDA FSIS,is introduced it may induce spoilage of 2008). Ingredients in compliance with FDAthe egg contents (Zeidler, 2002). guidelines can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations. Detergents helpInterestingly, in Europe Grade A eggs remove dirt and kill microbes during wetare not washed. This practice is a result cleaning. Detergents generally raise waterof research done in the early 1900s that pH to 11 and the alkaline environmentindicated washing eggs before storage helps kill microbes, including salmonellaresulted in unpredictable and sometimes (Zeidler, 2002). There are many detergentsdeleterious results. However, the length or egg soaps on the market. For example,of wash time, cleanliness and tempera- Egg Wash Powder is an alkaline chlorinatedture of the water and the proper use of foam controlled powder available throughsanitizers varied widely in these studies Incredible Egg Washer Co., Nasco and(Hutchison et al., 2003). other ATTRA Page 3
  4. 4. In certified organic processing under the Sanitizing National Organic Program, §205.605 After washing, eggs are sanitized to of the National List lists nonagricultural reduce microbial load. (nonorganic) substances that may be used in processed products labeled as organic Chlorine-based sanitizers should be from or made with organic ingredients. The list 50 to 200 ppm (Zeidler, 2002). How- includes natural materials such as citric ever, using less than 100 ppm chlorine and lactic acids and synthetic materials may help protect the cuticle (Hutchison et including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, al., 2003). One tablespoon of household ozone potassium hydroxide, and peracetic chlorine bleach, usually 5.25 percent acid. The Organic Materials Review Insti- sodium hypochlorite, per gallon of water tute (OMRI) lists brand name products will result in a solution of 200 ppm chlorine that are allowed under this National List. (McGlynn, 2009). Free chlorine level must The name brand list includes AFCO 5242 be frequently checked because chlorine is Egg Wash Org, whose main ingredient is inactivated by organic material such as dirt. potassium hydroxide. Keep in mind not Chlorine test strips are available in restau-B all possible options are listed because rant supply stores. e conscious there is a cost for OMRI listing. of where Organic requirements permit a fi nal rinse Be conscious of where your wash water with a chlorine level less than 4 ppm, the your wash goes, as ongoing and excessive use limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act.water goes, an of detergent could be harmful to your See the OMRI product list for approvedongoing and exces- septic system. If you dispose of wash water sanitizers and check with the individualsive use of detergent on farm, a gentler soap or other material company to ensure the product can becould be harmful to should be used. IPS-CareFree Enzymes, used on shell eggs. Inc. has an egg wash product called Eggyour septic system. Interestingly, in a test comparing the Washer Pro that breaks down contaminants effectiveness of sanitizers including with a blend of enzymes that make up the chlorine, electrolyzed water and perace- wash. Some small producers use a solution tic acid, none of the sanitizers were more of distilled white vinegar diluted in half effective than rinsing with water (Musgrove with water to wipe their eggs. Vinegar can et al., 2008). aid in removing stains from the shell and is known to have antibacterial properties due to its acidity (Entani et al., 1998). Drying Eggs should be dried after washing and The USDA requires that wash water be before packing and storing to prevent changed every four hours in commercial fungal and microbial growth. Eggs can be production. Replacement water is added dried by evaporation, with fan assistance continuously. or by wiping. Defoamers are used with egg-washing machines to help reduce foaming. Exces- Candling sive foaming causes water to spill over sides In some states, small-scale producers may of tank and this affects water temperature be required to candle eggs to ensure interior and pH. quality of the eggs in terms of blood spots, cracks and more. Even if you are exempt, Rinsing candling is still important to ensure your Eggs are rinsed to remove adhering dirt, customers do not receive fertile eggs with detergents, and foam (Zeidler, 2002). Rinse developing embryos, eggs with blood spots water should be a few degrees higher than or cracked eggs. If you gather frequently the wash water to prevent drawing the water and use cold storage, embryos will not have into the egg. the chance to develop in fertile eggs.Page 4 ATTRA Small-Scale Egg Handling
  5. 5. Brown eggs are more difficult to candle recommended because it may allowthan white eggs due to the darker shell microbes to enter the shell.which can generally lead to a higher If you have just a few eggs, use a brushpercentage of blood and meat spots. and wash them in a sink with hot running water and then dip them in a sanitizerGrading (Bigbee and Froning, 1997). The waterGrading involves sorting eggs based should be warmer than the egg. Prewet-on quality, size and weight standards. ting and using a detergent will help.Quality is based on shell quality, the air Brushes that can be sanitized are helpful.cell, the white and the yolk. For exam- For example, surgical brushes, which areple, the highest quality Grade AA has small nylon brushes packed with microa clean, unbroken, unstained shell; the bristles, are made to clean hands andair cell is 1/8 inch or less in depth; the under nails and are useful in egg clean-white is clear and fi rm; and the outline ing because they can easily be sanitizedof the yolk is only slightly defi ned and in the dishwasher or bleach from defects such as blood spots.The USDA Egg Grading Manual, avail- Dip washingable at, describes To wash several dozen eggs, make uphow grading is done under the USDA separate basins of detergent, rinse water(USDA, 1990). and sanitizer solutions. Wash each egg separately and do not soak. Dip the eggGrading also involves sorting eggs into in rinse water, and then dip it in sani-weight classes or sizes including peewee, tizer. Using an egg basket or colandersmall, medium, large, extra large and to rinse and sanitize many eggs at oncejumbo. The USDA Egg Grading Manual will save time. Set eggs aside to dry. Itexplains the required individual egg weight is important to remember to change theand how much a dozen eggs need to weigh detergent and rinse water after every 3 tofor each weight class. Consumers notice size 4 dozen eggs. Use gloves to protect handsvariation within a carton but not as much from hot water, detergent and sanitizerfrom carton to carton. Most states do not (Bigbee and Froning, 1997). Sinks withrequire small-scale egg producers to grade three basins are ideal for this method andeggs and cartons usually must be marked can usually be found through bar andas ungraded. restaurant equipment suppliers. Also available through similar sources areMethods for washing, brushes atop a suction base that willcandling and grading attach to the bottom of the sink and canThe capacity of washing methods is often be used under wash water, freeing updescribed in terms of cases. A case is a hand in the scrubbing process. Be30 dozen or 360 eggs and a half case cautious of disposing wash water onis 15 dozen. the farm because the detergents and sanitizers may be highly caustic or chlori- nated and your septic will suffer if fed theManual methods mix (Davis, 2005).WashingMethods that use spraying, pouring Spray or pour washingor dipping reduce the time of contact Robert Plamondon, a small-scale pro-between water and egg. As mentioned ducer in Oregon, provides the followingearlier, soaking eggs is generally not ATTRA Page 5
  6. 6. While the eggs are in wire baskets or plastic egg crates, shower them generously with the use of a watering can with 100 degrees water that contains detergent and enough chlorine to bring the level to 100- 200 ppm. Allow the wash water to run away from the eggs by sitting the basket atop a drain. After standing a few minutes the eggs may need to be watered again. Then wipe the eggs individually with a paper towel. Replace the paper towel often during the process. A cloth towel should not be used because it may continue to be used long after it has become dirty. Clean eggs should then be placed in a clean wire basket or plastic fl at. Clean eggs are then sanitized by The Jiff y Egg Scale is an inexpensive gravity-operated generously showering them with 100 degree egg scale. Photo courtesy of Meyer Hatchery. water that is 100-200 ppm chlorine. You can dry the eggs manually or let them air dry. Drying racks can be made with half- inch hardware cloth on a wooden frame. The The small egg scales that most catalogues eggs will also dry if put into the refrigerator sell are not very accurate and are not for while still in the basket or crates. Wet eggs legal trade. If you do a lot of wholesaling, should not be placed in cartons because you need to get a commercial scale that they will stick (Plamondon,2001). will be inspected regularly for accuracy. A diet or kitchen scale is usually enough for Candling people who sell small numbers directly to For hand candling, there are many the consumer. different setups. According to Colorado State Extension, Mechanical egg washing and “a suitable light can be handmade by grading cutting a 1.25-inch diameter hole in Machinery may be needed if the amount the end of a coffee can. Insert a light bulb of eggs being processed is too much to fixture through the lid, using a 40-watt bulb. do by hand. Although immersion wash- View the interior of the egg by holding the ing is not recommended, there are some large end up to the hole cut in the bottom machines on the market. Check with of the can. As the light passes your state egg laws to see if immersion through the egg, twirl the egg several times. If blood spots are washing is allowed. Oregon egg pro- present, you will see them” ducer Robert Plamondon recommends (Geiger, 1995). Another low- only cleaning 3 dozen eggs per gallon of tech way to candle is by taping water in the machine before replacing a 3-inch length of empty bath the water and using the proper amount tissue paper tube to a flash- of chlorine or sanitizer. Prewetting is light. Suppliers such as Nasco, also helpful. Kuhl and Rochester Hatchery offer hand candlers. Immersion washers The Incredible Egg Washer is a plastic bucket Grading that handles 8 dozen eggs at a time. It For small-scale grading, gravity includes a 10-inch egg basket and is small operated scales can be found for enough to use in a kitchen. An air com- less than $70. They are available pressor bubbles water around the eggs. ItCandlers help ensure the interior qualityof eggs. Photo courtesy Maine Organic through Kuhl, Nasco, Rochester costs about $100 but the air compressor isFarmers and Gardeners. Hatchery and other suppliers. sold separately and costs about $140. It isPage 6 ATTRA Small-Scale Egg Handling
  7. 7. square inch. The system is made to fit in a 5-gallon bucket, which also holds an 8- dozen-size egg basket. Eggs are given a 5- 7 minute bubbling warm water, about 100 degrees, bath before a rinse in warm water. Eggs that are still dirty may need a quick wipe and another rinse before being set to dry (Guebert, 2007). The Kleen Egg Turbo Air-Wash, avail- a ble t h rough Rochester Hatcher y, is a 7-gallon galvanized bucket with a heating element and egg basket. It washes from 10 to 15 dozen eggs in 3 to 5 min-The Incredible Egg Washer uses air bubbles and water utes and has an adjustable thermostatto clean shell eggs. Photo courtesy of The IncredibleEgg Washer Co. to maintain water temperature. It costs about $400 but also requires an air compressor to blow air bubbles throughoffered by The Incredible Egg Washer Co., t he water. Accord i ng to producerNasco, and other suppliers. Robert Plamondon, “with a suitably smallProducer Mike Geubert described how to compressor, this would work fi ne in themake a similar system on the farm. This kitchen”(Plamondon, 2000). The heat-can save on costs, especially if one already ing element is a 115-volt, 1,500-wattowns an air compressor. The bubbler sys- element. You can fi ll it with hot water fromtem can be made with PVC piping with the kitchen sink and it is small enoughholes drilled throughout the base and an air to pick up and dump used water. In fact,coupler to connect to the compressor. The for kitchen use Plamondon does not rec-regulator on the compressor can be used to ommend plugging in the heating elementadjust the pressure to 10 to 5 pounds per because “by the time the water’s cold, it’s probably also dirty”(Plamondon, 2000). In this case it would probably only be neces- sary in a situation where one did not have access to hot water. Kuhl Corp. offers a large fiber- glass immersion egg washer that cleans from one to eight cases, or 360 to 2,880 eggs, in an hour and operates with an egg crate or egg basket. It is large enough that it cannot be lifted to dump water out and requires a floor drain. These KF Models are offered for 110- volt or 220-volt electricity and The KF Model is a low capacity both cost more than $1,200. immersion egg washer. Photo courtesy of Kuhl Corporation. Dishwasher Dishwashers are used experimentally forThis is a homemade unit to clean eggs with water andbubbles. The unit is made with three-quarter-inch washing eggs by some small egg produc-PVC pipe and drilled with a 3/32-inch bit. Photo by ers. Dishwashers are used with a detergentMike Geubert. suitable for egg washing and not ATTRA Page 7
  8. 8. soap because it is too harsh. Dishwashers water is added to maintain a continuous may be able to clean eggs with the sheer overflow. force of the water. Only the top rack should Kuhl Corp. offers the EBEW 1-5, which be used, as the bottom rack is too close to processes from one to five cases an hour, the jets and will cause the eggs to bounce or from 360 to 1,800 eggs. A recycled around and break. The main things that spray is used to clean eggs. Eggs are should be considered are achieving proper rotated on rubber rollers during clean- water temperature and drainage. ing and then pass through a sanitizing Dishwashers usually heat the water hot spray. A grader or farm packer can be enough to potentially cook the eggs. This attached. could be resolved by setting the water heater to from 110 to 120 degrees and turning off the dishwasher’s heat dry or temperature sensor feature so that it doesn’t heat the water and the eggs more than what is necessary. Drainage issues result from the soil and feathers that are washed off the eggs building up in pipes and eventually cre- ating clogs. The fi lter on the dishwasher is usually large enough to let debris pass. Even though clogs may not be a problem in the beginning, some producers dis- cover a clogged line after several months, especially if there is a large percentage of very dirty eggs. A separate water out- let pipe for an egg-washing dishwasher may be appropriate. The EBEW 1-5 cleans eggs through a pressure spray wash and sanitizer spray. Photo courtesy of Kuhl Chlorine can be added to the water dur- Corporation. ing the rinse cycle to sanitize the eggs, but it may be time-consuming to wait for T he Na t i on a l Pou lt r y E q u i pment the change in cycles. If the eggs are not Company offers the Sani-Touch line of extremely dirty just using the rinse cycle machines, which come in models 5, 10 may be sufficient. and 20, referring to the number of cases that can be processed in an hour. These machines are washer and sanitizer units Brush and spray washers with driers that have optional candling Brushing and spraying is an ideal way to and grading attachments. The machines clean eggs. However, there are only a few require water and drain hookups but small brush and spray washing machines come with their own water heater. The currently on the market and most egg- Sani-Touch models do not recycle the washing equipment is very large and water. The Model 10 is more than 13 feet runs hundreds of cases each hour for long and 2 feet wide, and the Model 5 is large-scale production. Large-scale egg more than 10 feet long without candler washers use water sprays and brushes to or grader additions. clean eggs and can process 500 cases an hour. Brushes are usually oriented per- An additional attachment is a spool-spinner pendicular to egg flow. The spinning of candler that rolls the eggs around for view- eggs around their vertical axis facilitates ing and even has a mirror on the back so cleaning. Wash water is re-circulated in you can see both ends of the eggs. It can large machines and new replacement be combined with a vacuum-operated eggPage 8 ATTRA Small-Scale Egg Handling
  9. 9. lifter to load six eggs at a time on the can- Candlers and gradersdler section. The grader bolts onto the far National Poultry Equipment sells a free-end of the unit and separates the eggs into standing grader, the Sani-Touch Model CG.six grades, peewee through jumbo. The Egomatic was a candler and grader thatIn the past Sani-Touch units were sold was sold in the past in the United States andunder the AquaMagic name and have is sometimes sold as used equipment.been made for decades. It may be pos-sible to find used equipment and partsare still available that work with the old Oilingmachines. Eggs can be oiled with a food-grade mineral oil after washing to help reduceProducer Robert Plamondon describes his moisture or CO 2 loss, maintain the inter-used Aquamagic: nal quality of the egg and prevent the “The AquaMagic candles, washes (with a introduction of microbes. In the United water spray and brushes), dries (with fans States eggs are generally distributed and more brushes). The washer section quickly and oiling is not necessary. Oiling works MUCH better than immersion wash- ers, and the drier section means you don’t is more important in warmer areas where have to leave eggs sitting around to dry. there is a risk of inadequate refrigeration The washer comes with a little pump that (Hutchison et al., 2003). pumps detergent/sanitizer solution out of a bucket and mixes it with the warm wash water. It comes with a chute loader, which Storage and distribution is a ramp that you fi ll up with a row of After processing, eggs should be stored eggs. They roll slowly down the ramp as at 45 deg rees to prevent microbia l the washer picks the eggs up one at a time. growth. Humidity should be kept at 70 The washed/sanitized/dried eggs come out the far end onto a table, where you pick to 85 percent. Clean eggs stored at these them up and put them into fl ats or cartons. conditions will keep for three months For a little extra, you can have a candling (Damerow, 1995). In a standard refriger- light added onto the chute loader, where a ator, where the humidity is lower, washed bright light shines up through a slot in the eggs only keep for five weeks. chute, allowing you to candle the eggs as they pass by.”(Plamondon, 2000) In large-scale commercial production, eggs usually reach the packing plant onlyThe smaller Model 5 sanitizer unit with a few days after hens lay them (USDAcandler costs from $10,500 to $11,000 FSIS, 2007). Eggs packed under federal(or slightly less without the candler) and regulations require the pack date to be$26,500 with the candler and grader. Two displayed on the carton. It is a three-digitpeople can run it at 75 percent of its top Julian date that represents the consecutivespeed. The larger Model 10 S costs about day of the year. The carton is also dated$14,000 with a candler (slightly less with the sell-by or expiration date (Exp.),without the candler) and $29,000 with depending on the state. Eggs with a fed-the spool-spinner candler and grader. It eral grade must be sold within 30 daysrequires four people — a loader, candler from day of pack (USDAD FSIS, 2007a).and two packers — to run it at top speed. The USDA recommends that consumersThe water heater that comes with the buy eggs before the expiration date andSani-Touch models is very intricate. It use them within 3 to 5 weeks. In Junemay be possible to connect it up to an 2006, a USDA Agricultural Marketingexisting source of hot water for some Service (USDA AMS) rule prohibited thesavings. The machines are sturdy and repackaging of eggs previously shippedcan process over 2,000 dozen eggs a day for retail sale that were packed under its(Plamondon, 2003). grading ATTRA Page 9
  10. 10. Small specialty producers should sell Government regulations their eggs within seven days of lay so that the eggs are as fresh or fresher than and grading conventional eggs. A producer with a f lock of fewer than 3,000 hens is exempt from complying with the Egg Products Inspection Act. Site facility The Egg Products Inspection Act was The handling area should generally be passed in 1970 to insure egg products are clean and free of insects, vermin and safe for human consumption. In 1972, other possible contaminants. Some states quarterly on-site inspections of all shell may require screened windows; rodent- egg processors became required. This proof doors; washable walls and fl oors Shell Egg Surveillance program ensures with all joints caulked; potable water; that shell eggs are as good or better than sanitary drainage; and no pets in the grade B. For more information, see 7 building (Plamondon, 2000). CFR, Part 57 of the Regulations Govern- Oregon egg producer Robert Plamondon ing the Inspection of Eggs at www.ams. describes his egg washing area: n the United ELDEV3004691. Our egg-washing is done in our garage States about 30 (which we don’t use for vehicles). Just The USDA AMS has a voluntary egg grad- percent of eggs about any garage that a lready has a ing service for shell eggs that is paid for concrete fl oor, water, a drain going to the by plants. The Regulations Governingare consumed in the septic system, and adequate electrical power could be converted pretty cheaply. the Inspection of Eggs 7 CFR, Part 56form of egg prod- Basically, the food-safety inspectors want to describes how eggs should be processeducts such as broken see an installation that appears to be built under the voluntary grading program.whole eggs, yolks to code and is appropriate for proper food- See whites. handling, which mostly revolves around dDocName=STELDEV3004690 for more keeping bugs and rodents out, being easy to clean, having enough sinks, and information. Under this service, USDA having potable water so you’re taking graders continuously monitor the grad- bacteria away when you wash, not adding ing and packing of eggs to ensure that them (Plamondon, 2000). the eggs meet quality and size standards. In addition, plant processing equip- Egg products ment, facilities, sanitation and operating procedures are verified according to Small-scale producers usually sell only regulation requirements. By meeting shell eggs, not processed eggs. However, these requirements, eggs packed at offi - in the United States about 30 percent of cial plants are eligible to carry the USDA eggs are consumed in the form of egg grade shield. The Egg Grading Manual products such as broken whole eggs, yolks is an excellent resource and is available and whites. After breaking, egg prod- online at ucts are sold as liquid, dried and frozen getfile?dDocName=STELDEV3004502. products. Yolks are salted or sugared if With more emphasis on Hazard Analysis frozen to prevent forming a rubbery gel and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and upon thawing. In large-scale processing, high quality, the Plant Sanitation and egg products are pasteurized after break- Good Manufacturing Practices Program ing to kill microbes. The USDA Food (PSGMP) is also available under volun- Safety and Inspection Service (USDA tary grading. FSIS) inspects these operations. Egg prod- ucts are used in food manufacturing. For Although small-scale egg producers more information, see the USDA FSIS Egg do not have to comply with federal pro- Products and Food Safety Fact Sheets, grams, they need to follow state egg laws. available at _ Although states have exemptions for small Products_and_Food_Safety.pdf. producers, some states are quite rigorousPage 10 ATTRA Small-Scale Egg Handling
  11. 11. in terms of washing, candling and tem- • Facility pest management thatperature requirements during storage prevents contamination.and sale. Many eggs are sold ungraded at • Management that prevents com-farmers’ markets. mingling with nonorganic products. (Kuepper et al., 2009)Organic egg handling • Proper recordkeeping and auditIn order to be certified organic, the eggs control procedures that ensuremust be handled or processed under traceability of the product andrequirements of the National Organic proper use of the organic seal.Program (NOP) and the processing facil-ity must be certified organic. Organic Conclusionhandling requirements are covered in Proper handling is a critical part ofCFR § 205.270 to 205.272 of the NOP. any egg business despite the size of the operation. Proper handling ensuresIn general, organic processing requires: q ua l it y a nd sa fet y for con sumer s and compliance with state and federal • The use of organic ingredients regulations. The information given in or ingredients allowed by the this publication provides viable options National List. for small and medium sized egg produc- • Management that prevents contami- ers in executing proper handling within nation with prohibited substances. their own production system.ReferencesBigbee, D. E. and G. W. Froning. 1997. Egg Cleaning Listserver. for the Household Flock. NebGuide. G79- PasturePoultry/message/36138466-A. University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, Hutchison, M. L., J. Gittins, A. Walker, A. Moore, C.Lincoln, NE. Burton and N. Sparks. 2003. Washing table eggs: ADamerow, Gail. 1995. A Guide to Raising Chickens. review of scientific and engineering issues. World’sStorey Communications, Inc., Pownal, VT. 341 p. Poultry Science Association. 59:233-248.Davis, Jim. 2005. Re: Kenmore Egg Washer Test. Kuepper, George, Holly Born, and Anne Fanatico.E-mail posting to PasturePoultry listserve, Sept. 2009. Farm Made: A Guide to On-Farm Processing for Organic Producers. The Kerr Center for Sustain-13, 2005. able Agriculture, Poteau, Oklahoma. 44 p.Entani E., M. Asai, S. Tsujihata, Y. Tsukamoto and McGlynn, William. Guidelines for the Use of ChlorineM. Ohta. 1998. Antibacterial action of vinegar against Bleach as a Sanitizer in Food Processing pathogenic bacteria including Escherichia Food Technology Fact Sheet. Oklahoma State University.coli O157:H7. Journal of Food Protection. Vol. 61 (8) Musgrove, M., S. Trabue, J. Shaw, D. Jones. 2008.Geiger, G., W. Russell and H. Enos. 1995. Efficacy of Post-Washing Shell Egg Sanitizers. PoultryManagement: The Family Egg Supply. No. 2.510. Science Association Meeting Abstract. P.42Colorado State Extension. 3 p. Parkhurst, Carmen and Georg Mountney. 1988.Guebert, M. 2007. “Re: Egg washing machine.” Poultry Meat and Egg Production. Van NostrandOnline Posting, 9 March 2007. Yahoo Pasture Poultry Reinhold Co., New ATTRA Page 11
  12. 12. Plamondon, Robert. 2000. “Egg washers, candling, Eugene, OR 97440&c.” Online Posting, 23 Dec. 2000. Yahooo Pasture 541-343-7600Poultry Listserver. 541-343-8971 FAXPasturePoultry/message/5820 www.omri.orgPlamondon, Robert. 2001. “Re: Washing Eggs.” Voluntary review and listing service for products usedOnline Posting, 23 May 2001. Yahoo PasturePoultry Listserver. in organic production and processing asgroup/PasturePoultry/message/7786 certified under the USDA National Organic Program. Approved products are listed annually inPlamondon, Robert. 2003. “Re: Immersion Egg the directory, OMRI Products List. Hard copy of theWashers (Also, USDA Egg Regulations).” Online OMRI Product List is available through paid sub-Posting, 7 Feb. 2003. Yahoo Pasture Poultry scription, and the online version can be viewed at noListserver. cost.PasturePoultry/message/13939USDA. 1990. Egg-Grading Manual. Agriculture Equipment SuppliersHandbook No. 75. USDA Agricultural Marketing IPS-CareFree Enzymes, Inc.Service, Washington, DC. 36 p. PO Box 190USDA FSIS. 2007. Inspection of Eggs and Egg Kansasville, WI 53139Products. Code of Federal Regulations. 9 CFR 262-878-0995590.515. 262-878-0997 FAX carefree@execpc.comUSDA FSIS. 2007a. Shell Eggs from Farm to Table www.carefreeenzymes.comFact Sheet. Accessed June 2009. Offers enzymatic products for a variety of areasFact_Sheets/Focus_On_Shell_Eggs/index.asp including poultry. Their natural poultry product lineUSDAD FSIS. 2007b. Food Product Dating Fact includes Poultry Protector, Waterer Protector, OdorSheet. Accessed June 2009. Digester, and egg washing products Egg Washer ProFact_Sheets/Food_Product_Dating/index.asp and Foam Blocker. A list of retailers carrying IPS- CareFree Enzymes, Inc. products can be found onUSDA FSIS. 2008. Guidance for Shell Egg Cleaners their Web site or by contacting them through emailand Sanitizers. Accessed June 2009. www.fsis.usda. or by Incredible Egg Washer Co. P.O. Box 302 Zeidler, G. 2002. Processing and Packaging Shell Manchaug, MA 01526-0302Eggs. p. 1107-1129. In: D.D. Bell and W.D. Weaver 508-476-0084(eds.). Commercial Chicken Meat and Egg Production 888-852-5340 (toll-free)5th ed. Springer Publishers, New York, NY. 877-455-4647 FAX www.theincredibleeggwasher.comFurther resources Offers the Incredible Egg Washer, replacement parts, and Egg Wash Powder. The washer safely uses air toApproved Substances gently clean the eggs.Code of Federal Regulations. 2009. Title 21, Chapter Kuhl Corporation1, Parts 172-186. Accessed June 2009. www.access. P.O. Box Flemington, NJ 08822-0026 Lists substances which comply with major FDA guide- 908-782-5696 lines for shell egg cleaners and sanitizers; those which 908-782-2751 FAX are approved as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) for use in food, and regulated as food additives. List is Offers egg washing equipment and a variety of updated annually. poultry production equipment. Egg washer optionsOrganic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) include low capacity immersion washers KF-200, Box 11558 KF-400 (max. capacity: 8 cases/hr) and spray/Page 12 ATTRA Small-Scale Egg Handling
  13. 13. sanitizer washer EBEW 1-5 (max. capacity: 5 cases/ scale, washer, wash powder, brushes. Product hr). Detergents, sanitizers, preserving oils, and nest catalogs are available upon request. boxes are also available. Offer product catalogs National Poultry Equipment Co. upon request. 3290 Lancer Ave.Lee Valley Tools, Ltd. Osage, Iowa 50461 P.O. Box 1780 641-732-1460 Ogdensburg, NY 13669-6780 641-732-1470 FAX 800-267-8735 (toll-free) 800-513-7885 FAX Manufacturer of egg processing equipment for small to medium sized egg producers. Web site shows their Offers a variety of woodworking and gardening Sani-Touch washers, has a forum for those who may tools. They offer the World’s Kindest Nail Brush be looking to buy or sell used equipment, features which some small egg producers find helpful in their videos about how to use the equipment and more. manual egg washing system. Rochester HatcheryNASCO 9420 109 Street P.O. Box 901 Westlock, Alberta T7P 2R4, Canada Fort Atkinson, WI 53538-0901 780-307-3622 800- 558-9595 (toll-free) 920-563-8296 FAX Offers many varieties of poultry chicks and poultry equipment. Egg supplies include nest boxes, Large supplier of farm and ranch equipment with a detergent, brushes, candlers, scales, cartons, boxes. large line of poultry equipment. Egg supplies include Catalogs can be requested through email or can be nest boxes, baskets, cartons, flats, cases, candlers, downloaded from their Web ATTRA Page 13
  14. 14. NotesPage 14 ATTRA Small-Scale Egg Handling
  15. 15. ATTRA Page 15
  16. 16. Small-Scale Egg Handling By Anne Fanatico, Ph.D., and Betsy Conner NCAT Poultry Specialists © 2009 NCAT Holly Michels, Editor Amy Smith, Production This publication is available on the Web at: or IP348 Slot 346 Version 092109Page 16 ATTRA