WITH outbreaks of disease comes the need to find the source, hence, traceability. A number of producers have spoken with me about traceability requirements and also the systems they have put in place to ensure business integrity and accountability of product.
The ‘Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – Standard 4.2.5 – Primary Production and Procession Standard for Eggs and Egg Product’ states an egg processor must have a system to identify from whom eggs were or egg pulp was received; and to whom eggs or egg product was supplied. Such information allows for traceability.
Under the same code, an egg producer must not sell eggs unless each individual egg is marked with the producer’s unique identification code.
Thorough record keeping and egg stamping regulations have been made and these methods have helped producers ensure records can be produced of egg movement from the farmgate in the event of an audit.
Traceability is simple with the implementation of such steps. In NSW, producers generating less than 20 dozen eggs in a week and retail selling direct from their farmgate have an exemption from auditing purposes. A number of years ago, breakthrough research was undertaken by the egg industry to focus on provenance.
Though there was not uptake at that time by our industry, the pork industry uses this testing system and it has also been used by the seafood sector, particularly in the prawn industry.
On-farm stamping can be cost prohibitive and so after understanding practices implemented by producers, stamping at central packing areas is a possible solution.
If traders buy ungraded eggs, these would be stamped at the grading floor. These practices are standard operating procedures in some businesses and through auditing of eggs coming in from a particular production system and the number sent out, numbers are reconciled.
Egg Farmers of Australia is conducting workshops in a number of states to discuss the lead government agency pertaining to outbreaks of salmonella enteritidis, and in creating a preparedness plan, traceability has also been raised. Some states are focused more broadly on food traceability and Australian Eggs has research being conducted pertaining to methods to support enhanced traceability.
Melinda Hashimoto, CEO Egg Farmers of Australia