The Association attributes the state egg industry's safety record to the voluntary California Egg Quality Assurance Program developed in 1995. The program, implemented by 95 percent of the state's egg producers, requires:
- Chicks and pullets be purchased from hatcheries participating in the National Poultry Improvement Plan
- Environmental testing of the birds throughout the chicken's lifespan
- Review of egg operations by CDFA veterinarians to ensure compliance
- California Department of Food and Agriculture
- United States Department of Agriculture
- California Department of Health Services
- Food and Drug Administration
- California Animal Health and Food Safety System
- University of California Cooperative Extension
Meanwhile,the egg salmonella outbreak has renewed public concern about the safety of the U.S. food supply and generated extensive media coverage. For example, the KQED Public Radio program Forum devoted an hour to the egg recall yesterday. One of the guests was Dan Sumner, director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center. Sumner provided perspective on the business side, explaining that, in addition to regulations, there are other pressures on companies to produce wholesome food.
"I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that this is the end of the egg companies that we're talking about. If you think about the buyer side of this - I don't mean consumers but the Safeways or significant companies - these guys are pariahs in the business," Sumner said.