July 7/Washington/UPI -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has issued new egg safety rules aimed at preventing an annual average of 79,000 cases of Salmonella poisoning.
The FDA rules mandates preventive measures during the production of shell eggs in poultry houses and requires, among other things, subsequent refrigeration during storage and transportation.
Egg-associated illness caused by Salmonella is a serious public health problem, the federal agency said, with infected individuals suffering mild to severe gastrointestinal illness, short term or chronic arthritis or even death.
The FDA said it expects its new rules to reduce the number of Salmonella enteritidis infections from eggs by nearly 60%.
Salmonella enteritidis can be found inside eggs that appear perfectly normal, officials said. If the eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacterium can cause illness. Eggs in the shell become contaminated on the farm, primarily because of infection in the laying hens.
The rules require producers with at least 3,000, but fewer than 50,000, laying hens to comply within 36 months after the rules' publication in the Federal Register. Producers with 50,000 or more laying hens must be in compliance within 12 months after publication.
From the July 20, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition