AOAC to Evaluate Alternative Environmental Samples for
Compliance with New FDA Egg Safety Rule
Implementation of FDA’s Egg Safety Final Rule (Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation), which went into effect September 8, 2009 with a compliance date of July 9, 2010, has prompted interest in alternative, more flexible environmental sampling plans. Since May 2010, AOAC has received Performance Tested MethodsSM (PTM) applications specific for testing Salmonella Enteritidis in shelled eggs.
The final rule requires shell egg producers to implement measures to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis, which is among the leading bacterial causes of foodborne illness in the United States, from contaminating eggs (a primary source of human Salmonella Enteritidis infections) on the farm and from further growth during storage and transportation. The compliance date for the final rule was July 9, 2010, but for producers with fewer than 50,000 but at least 3,000 laying hens, the compliance date is July 9, 2012.
FDA agrees that the same sampling plan may not be practical for all operations. Results of FDA studies have shown that the two best areas to sample are manure areas and egg belts.
AOAC customers have expressed interest in evaluating test kits for alternative environmental samples in primary production facilities (poultry/egg houses) that would provide equivalent or better results compared with manure pit drag swabs.
In the PTM program, candidate test kit methods will be evaluated using blind-coded samples prepared by an independent laboratory yet to be chosen. Results will be reviewed by the AOAC Process Expert (formerly known as General Referee) for Microbiology. Successful candidate methods that have demonstrated equivalency to the reference method will receive PTM approval.
It is expected that PTM validations will be completed in Fall 2010.
For more information, contact Zerlinde Johnson, technical program manager, at email@example.com. Full coverage is scheduled for the July/August issue of Inside Laboratory Management.