Standard 4.2.5 – Primary production and processing standard for eggs and egg product

Version 2 June 2017

Purpose

To provide guidance to food industry and local government enforcement agencies with the application of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code (the Code) Standard 4.2.5 – Primary Production and Processing Standard for Egg and Egg Products.

Background

Standard 4.2.5 – Primary Production and Processing Standard for Eggs and Egg Products (Standard 4.2.5) has been developed by Food Standards Australia New Zealand in response to food-borne illness outbreaks suspected of being linked to eggs and egg products.

Some of the key requirements of Standard 4.2.5 include:

  • Individual eggs and egg products to be marked with a unique identifier. This unique identifier is designed to enable the source of an individual egg or egg product to be quickly identified and traced back to its producer/processor. This is particularly useful in the event of a food-borne disease outbreak investigation where eggs or egg products have been identified as a possible source.
  • Prohibits the sale of unacceptable eggs or egg products such as cracked or dirty eggs that are not intended for further cleaning or pasteurisation.
  • Egg producers and processors must operate according to a Food Safety Management Statement.

Unique identifier

Standard 4.2.5 clauses 10 and 20 describes the requirements for a unique identifier, with there being a slight difference in these requirements for producers and processors, such that:

  • Egg producer – must not sell eggs or egg products unless each individual egg or each package or container of egg pulp is marked with the producer’s unique identifier.
  • Egg processor – must not sell eggs or egg products unless each individual egg or each package or container of egg pulp is marked with the processor’s or producer’s unique identifier.

A unique identifier can be a code, symbol or a number stamped onto each individual egg or package of egg product/s. The physical marking of eggs and egg products can be performed in a number of ways. Currently, two common methods exist: manual stamping and inkjet printing.

The Department of Health (Food Unit) does not have a preference on the egg marking method used and notes this will differ amongst individual producers and processors. Consideration must be given to the clarity of the image (unique identifier) on the eggs or egg products.

Further information on egg marking equipment can be found under ‘useful resources’ at the end of this fact sheet. The Australian Egg Corporation Limited has produced a document on egg marking which describes different methods and associated costs, and provides a list of suppliers of egg marking equipment.  It is worth noting that in addition to the unique identifier, the labelling standards of the Code still apply, which serves to further strengthen the traceability chain.

Central register

The Food Unit will manage a central register of unique identifiers. Food businesses for which Standard 4.2.5 applies will need to contact the Food Unit to either obtain or to have an existing unique identifier for the marking of eggs and egg products to be listed in the register.

New identifiers will be issued as follows: “WA” – followed by a number (for example; WA123).

Existing identifiers will need to be recorded / considered by the Food Unit prior to being listed on the central register.

The development of a register will benefit both the egg industry and local government authorities by reducing the likelihood of unique identifiers being duplicated and will assist in the trace back process undertaken in the event of a food borne outbreak investigation being linked to egg or egg products.

To access the central register contact the Food Unit on 9388 4999 or by email foodunit@health.wa.gov.au.

What to do

If you are an existing business currently without a unique identifier, complete and submit the ‘central register of unique identifiers for eggs and egg products’ form, available from the Food Unit.

If you currently have a unique identifier, contact the Food Unit by calling (08) 9388 4999 or complete the ‘central register of unique identifiers for eggs and egg products’ form and email it to foodsafety@health.wa.gov.au.

Prohibition on the sale of unacceptable eggs

An unacceptable egg is defined as one which is cracked and/or dirty, has not been processed by pasteurisation or by an equivalent process or contains a pathogenic micro-organism.

  • An egg producer – must not sell or supply unacceptable eggs unless they are to be either cleaned or processed by pasteurisation or an equivalent process by the egg processor.
  • An egg processor – must not sell or supply unacceptable eggs unless they are to be either cleaned or processed by pasteurisation or an equivalent process by the egg processor must not receive unacceptable eggs unless they are to be cleaned or processed by pasteurisation or an equivalent process.

Food Safety Management Statement

An egg producer or processor must develop and implement a Food Safety Management Statement (FSMS). The FSMS will demonstrate compliance with the standard, by systematically examining its production activities, identifying potential hazards and implementing control measures.

The FSMS must be approved or recognised by the relevant enforcement agency. For product intended for the domestic market, this would be the local government enforcement agency where the egg producer or processor is located.  

An implementation package developed by the Implementation Sub-committee for Food Regulation includes ‘the integrated model’ designed to promote the consistent application of the standard. The package also provides examples of ‘compliance plans’ for verifying ongoing compliance with Standard 4.2.5 and can be found at Food Regulation Implementation Sub-Committee – Implementation Package (external site). It should be noted the unique identifier requirements of Standard 4.2.5 must be included in an egg producer’s or processor’s FSMS.

Frequently asked questions

Will a central register for unique identifiers be used and who will manage it?

Yes, to assist industry and local government authorities specifically with implementing the traceability requirements of Standard 4.2.5, the Food Unit will develop and manage a central register of unique identifiers.

Do I need to be listed on the central register?

There is no legislative requirement to be listed on the centralised register of unique identifiers. The benefits of being listed include:

  • Ensuring your unique identifier is in fact unique to your business. The Food Unit will list unique identifiers on a first come basis.
  • In the event of a food borne outbreak the source of an individual egg or egg product can be accurately and efficiently identified. Thereby, reducing any unnecessary burden to industry.

Do I need to contact the Food Unit?

Yes if you are an egg producer or processor, in order to be allocated with a unique identifier, or if you already have an identifier to make sure it is listed on the register.

Is the possibility for unique identifiers to be duplicated, how will this be managed?

Yes, whilst it is possible that unique identifiers could be duplicated, this should be markedly reduced by the development of a central register. Unique identifiers will either be issued by the Food Unit or those with existing unique identifiers will need to contact the Food Unit to have their unique identifier listed.

Egg producers and/or processors are strongly advised to contact the Food Unit as soon as practicable to secure their unique identifier as they will be recorded on a first come basis.

Is there a need for a uniform/consistent design for unique identifiers?

The standard does not specify a uniform/consistent design for the unique identifier. As previously mentioned, to assist with this process and to reduce the likelihood for duplication, the Food Unit will generate and provide unique identifiers, or list on the central register existing unique identifiers on a first come basis.

What if my identifier is similar or the same as another?

In such instances the Food Unit will contact the parties involved and assist in negotiating a resolution. It is advisable that you contact the Food Unit as soon as practicable to reduce the likelihood of unique identifiers being duplicated.

Will unique identifiers be made publicly available?

No, however, if you need to access the central register, contact the Food Unit on 9388 or email foodunit@health.wa.gov.au.

Useful resources

 More information

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Public Health