July 9, 2020
UEP has filed comments with the FDA on the requirements related to egg testing within the proposed rule entitled “Laboratory Accreditation for Analyses of Foods.” Most of the rule directly deals with other foods that traditionally have not required testing prior to implementation of FSMA. But the rule does address eggs, stating that the egg testing required by the FDA Egg Safety Rule would need to be carried out by an accredited laboratory. As a general matter, UEP has no objection to the use of accredited laboratories in circumstances where food is being tested for potential hazards.
UEP has a strategic relationship with Food Safety Net Services, as our preferred laboratory vendor, which is accredited in all locations, and has the capacity to conduct egg testing.
UEP strongly encourages FDA to consult with The National Poultry Improvement Plan and USDA agencies that have extensive experience with testing agricultural products. UEP also requests that if the final rule covers egg testing, FDA include an adequate implementation schedule that will accommodate the expansion of the number of accredited laboratories. This includes state poultry laboratories that provide additional animal health testing for the egg industry, with some relying on the fees generated from environmental and egg testing to offset the lack of government funding.
In addition, UEP requests that FDA clarify the proposed rule in one respect. The proposed rule requires FDA to be notified of test results. However, the rule does not specifically address whether the company being tested would continue to receive these results, as is presently the case. UEP would strongly oppose any system where egg producers were not immediately notified of the results of egg tests. There is a strong public health consideration that requires this notification: If an egg test is positive, the producer must immediately divert eggs away from the table market and into processing or some other use that involves a kill step, typically pasteurization. Producers must be able to respond immediately to a positive egg test for food safety reasons.
UEP staff and consultants will monitor the rule as it moves through the agency and advise members of any changes to testing within the FDA Egg Safety Rule.
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