Sourcing Egg Products and Shell Eggs From Foreign Countries
Because of the expected shortage of egg products in the United States because of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in egg laying hens, companies that use egg products are asking about foreign sources of eggs and egg products.
FSIS Regulated Egg Products
The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is responsible for inspecting egg products under the authority of the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) (21 U.S.C. 1031 et seq.). Defined in both the EPIA and FSIS’s egg products inspection regulations (9 CFR part 590), egg products are liquid, frozen, or dried eggs, with or without ingredients (9 CFR 590.5). Some examples include Pasteurized Frozen Whole Egg with citric acid; plain Pasteurized Frozen Whole Egg without added ingredients; Pasteurized Liquid Yolk with 10% salt; Pasteurized Frozen Scrambled Egg Mix with Whole Egg and pepper, starch, and dried milk; Frozen Yolks with 10% sugar added; Frozen Egg Whites with whipping aids (such as sodium sulfate or triethyl citrate); Pasteurized Enzyme Modified Dried Egg Product with Egg Yolks and xanthan gum and citric acid to preserve color, and less than 1% silicon dioxide as an anticaking agent and phospholipase; Spray Dried Albumin; and Spray Dried Egg Whites with calcium citrate and salt (or other added ingredients). To be eligible to enter the United States, egg products must come from countries that have an inspection system that FSIS has found to be equivalent to that of the United States (21 U.S.C. 1046, 9 CFR 910(a)). To determine whether there are any animal health restrictions on a foreign country’s eligibility to export to the United States, importers should contact USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) import staff at (301) 851-3300 or AskNIES.Products@aphis.usda.gov.
There are two countries authorized to export egg products to the United States: Canada and the Netherlands. The list of eligible establishments for Canada can be found on the FSIS web site. and the list of eligible establishments for the Netherlands can be found on the FSIS web site. Product entering the United States must be accompanied by an official inspection certificate issued by the central competent authority of the country exporting the egg products. All shipments of egg products must be presented at an official import inspection establishment for re-inspection by FSIS import inspection personnel.
To be eligible to export egg products to the United States, countries must have an egg products inspection system that is equivalent to FSIS’s inspection system. To determine whether a country maintains an equivalent inspection system, FSIS conducts a thorough document review of that country’s relevant laws, regulations, and other official publications, and one or more on-site audits of the country’s relevant inspection system. If FSIS tentatively concludes that the system is equivalent based on that review, FSIS proposes to list the country in the egg products inspection regulations as eligible to export egg products to the United States. FSIS then evaluates any comments received in response to the proposal and determines whether to develop the final rule. If, after evaluating comments and any other available data, FSIS concludes that the country’s system is equivalent, FSIS publishes a final rule listing the country in the regulations as eligible to export egg products to the U.S.
For more information, please contact Dr. Dan Engeljohn at (202) 205-0495
Agencies Responsible for Shell Eggs
Jurisdiction over imported shell eggs is shared by three federal agencies: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). FDA has regulatory authority over imported shell eggs under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. Foreign producers must comply with the requirements of FDA’s “Egg Rule” found in 21 CFR Part 118 – Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation. Each individual farm that produces eggs for export to the U.S. must register with FDA under 21 CFR Part 118. To register, go to www.access.fda.gov and select “FURLS Shell Egg Producer Registration Module.” If the eggs are transported to another facility to be packed or consolidated with other eggs prior to export, that facility must register with FDA as a food facility. For that registration, go to www.access.fda.gov and select “FURLS Food Facility Registration Module.” Finally, either the farm or the facility must provide a prior notice to FDA. Go to www.access.fda.gov and select “Prior Notice System Interface.” If the eggs are for breaking only (and not for table use), they must comply with only the registration requirements (above) and the refrigeration requirements in 21 CFR Part 118. These regulations require that eggs that will go to an official USDA egg products plant for breaking and pasteurization must be refrigerated at 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below ambient temperature beginning 36 hours after time of lay up until they reach the official USDA egg products plant in the U.S. More information can be found at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2009-07-09/pdf/E9-16119.pdf. For questions, contact the FDA at (888) 723-3366.
APHIS protects America's animal and plant resources from agricultural pests and diseases. One way APHIS does this is by ensuring that all imported agricultural products shipped to the United States from abroad, including shell eggs and egg products, meet that Agency's entry requirements to exclude pests and diseases of agriculture. Importers should contact the APHIS Import staff to determine a foreign country’s eligibility to export to the United States at (301) 851-3300 or AskNIES.Products@aphis.usda.gov. Permits may be required for some countries. Additional information can be found at: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/animal_import/downloads/importer_letter_shell_eggs.pdf.
Under the EPIA, AMS is responsible for checking imported shell eggs. AMS does this to control the disposition of restricted eggs (eggs that are undesirable for human consumption without processing in an official egg products plant) and to assure that the eggs sold to consumers contain no more restricted eggs than permitted in the standards for U.S. Consumer Grade B shell eggs, are properly labeled and contain the required documentation (see 7 CFR part 57). AMS notifies FDA when applications are made to import table eggs into the United States and before releasing any lots of table eggs for domestic commerce. AMS also ensures imported eggs originate from foreign farms that are registered with FDA in accordance with 21 CFR 118.11 and are refrigerated in accordance with 21 CFR 118.4(e). An application to import shell eggs into the U.S. must be made to AMS on Form LPS-222 and be accompanied by a foreign health certificate. Import details can be found at: AMS' Website. Questions can be addressed to Jeff Shomaker at 202-720-2153 or Jeff.Shomaker@ams.usda.gov