A lot has been written about the escalating price of non-pasteurized shell eggs sold in California.  See, for example, “Shortage of Legally Compliant Shell Eggs Sends Prices Soaring in California.”  The cost of modifying hen houses to bring them in compliance with the law governing the housing of laying hens in California is passed onto consumers, resulting in higher prices.

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A viable alternative for those consumers who still want to eat eggs and egg products but cannot afford these increases, are pasteurized shell eggs or egg products treated “to reduce the risk of salmonella (SE), consistent with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards (5 log reduction).”  Producers who sell these products are exempt from the more stringent housing requirements, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s website.

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Interestingly, the new regulations appear in Title 3 of the California Code of Regulations governing food safety, and not the state’s animal cruelty laws.  Specifically, as described on the department’s website, the new Shell Egg Food Safety Regulations, (CCR) Section 1350 (Shell Egg Food Safety) and amended 3 CCR Section 1354 (Marking Requirements), “support the consumption of high quality, safe eggs.”

“These regulations require any in-state or out-of-state egg producer or egg handler selling chicken eggs in California to implement Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis (SE) reduction measures and label products accordingly.”

The Department has an informative Q & A section on its website for anyone desiring more information.  Since the regulations require compliance and registration of all in-state and out-of-state producers of shell eggs for sale in California, obtaining accurate information is essential.

Some of the Questions and Answers, repeated below, provide more information for producers and consumers in California and beyond:

Is compliance with 3 CCR Section 1350 required for products that contain egg if made in the state of California (salad dressing, pasta, egg-nog, candy bars)?

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Yes, the requirements of 3 CCR Section 1350 apply to the sale of eggs for consumption in California, if not pasteurized or otherwise processed, to reduce the risk of SE consistent with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards (5 log reduction), regardless of ultimate use.

If yes, how do the requirements of 3 CCR Section 1350 affect products made elsewhere, e.g., in Illinois (using eggs) and shipped for retail sales in California?

The requirements of the Egg Safety and Quality Management program (Program) do not apply to eggs sold to manufacturers outside of California who thereafter ship egg products into the state. Accordingly, 3 CCR Section 1350 does not apply to the eggs purchased by these manufacturers.

How do these rules apply to in-company transfers of eggs [i.e. division to division, outlet to outlet (e.g. restaurant chain XYZ purchases eggs in another state and through company transfers the eggs end up in restaurants in California)]?

The Program will evaluate such transfers on a case by case basis. If the restaurant chain meets the definition of an egg handler, as set forth in Food and Agricultural Code (FAC) Sections 27510 and 27510.1, the restaurant must ensure that the eggs have been produced in compliance with the requirements of 3 CCR Section 1350. A restaurant chain will generally qualify as an egg handler if it markets or sells eggs for California purchasers, including franchisees, or prepares them for sale in the California market.

How do the requirements of 3 CCR Section 1350 apply to cruise lines where eggs are consumed at sea, but are loaded when ships are in California ports?

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The requirements of the Program do not apply to eggs purchased for consumption in international waters that travel through California. Accordingly, 3 CCR Section 1350 does not apply to them.