Food Safety Advisory Council holds virtual meeting

September 24, 2020

The UEP Food Safety Advisory Council (FSAC) held a virtual meeting on September 17, with 18 of the 20 council members in attendance. The producer members shared concerns that “keep them up at night” and their perspective on industry needs. This initial meeting focused on Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), emerging strains of Salmonella, consumer education, limiting outbreaks, and additional research needs.

Dr. Deana Jones provided an update on the current research taking place at USDA Agriculture Research Services (ARS) and additional projects already in queue. ARS personnel have been out of their labs since March due to the pandemic. Recently they were allowed to return on a limited basis to conduct research on the Salmonella Braenderup strain from the 2018 outbreak.

Two pending studies will provide additional information to the industry. The first, funded by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, is a study to evaluate plant sanitation programs and the effectiveness of current cleaning practices on equipment. Another component of this study will place organisms on old parts of equipment in a laboratory environment and identify the cleaning intervention strategies that eliminate the organism. The second pending project would look at airborne particulates in cage-free systems and how they affect food safety and egg quality. This research will be led by Dr. Lilong Chai at the University of Georgia and funded by the Egg Industry Center. Dr. Darrin Karcher updated the group on planned research on pullet stress and lighting and mislaid eggs.

The council discussed additional research needs and priorities, most of which are part of ARS’s five-year research plan. UEP consultant Randy Green provided an overview of the current regulatory work of UEP and its relationships with the regulatory agencies, including the historical transparency put forth by egg producers.

The meeting provided an excellent opportunity for FSAC members to meet, learn their respective roles within the industry, and determine how their expertise can contribute to council guidance. The council plans to develop initial recommendations for UEP’s Food Safety Committee during its next meeting.

See also Q&A with UEP’s Senior Vice President of Food Safety Regulatory Affairs, Oscar Garrison, “UEP develops new Food Safety Advisory Council,” in Watt Ag’s September Industry News.