How are eggs washed and sanitized?
Many people wonder what happens to their eggs after leaving the hen house. The United States is the one of the only countries in the world that washes their eggs. The process is an important and precise one.
Once the eggs enter the processing plant they roll onto a roller conveyor and enter the stainless steel egg washer. They roll along while brushes and hot water scrub them clean of any dirt or manure present. There are strict guidelines for the quality of water, temperatures and soap. All are crucial in maintaining a food safe environment. USDA requires the eggs to be washed at a minimum of 90 degrees. The wash water must also be 20 degrees warmer than the interior egg temperature and changed every four hours. Ideal wash water temperature is 102 to 120 degrees. JS West washes at a temperature of 110 degrees. The washer section is designed with two washers and a rinse section on the second washer. Two sections with spray nozzles designed to loosen manure from the eggs. A minimum pH level of 10.5 shall be maintained at all times while processing eggs. The pH meter is monitored by Quality Control, calibrated and documented on a monthly basis. pH strips will be kept on hand as a back-up.
This is the final stage of egg washing and where the highest water temperature is used. The temperature for the final rinse is approximately 120 to 135 degrees.
Chlorine solution is used in the final rinse in order to sanitize the eggs. Its purpose is to kill any bacteria that might be associated with the shell. The chlorine shall be maintained between 100ppm and 200ppm.
The washer is cleaned daily at the end of each shift and inspected by the USDA the next morning to ensure cleanliness.
All these steps are taken to make sure you and your family can feel confident in the safety and quality of the eggs you love.