Eggs can be produced in either an off-line or in-line facility. An off-line processing facility obtains its eggs from one or more laying operations. The eggs are picked up from the laying operations on a regular basis and brought to the processing facility for cleaning, inspection, and packaging.
Although it is well known that dirty or soiled eggs are undesirable, shell eggs can acquire bacteria from every surface they contact. Egg temperature is also important to maintain quality and control any SE that might be present. While the temperature of the incoming eggs will vary from season to season and from operation to operation, off-line processing plants (where eggs are brought in from off-site premises) can expect initial internal egg temperatures of 17 to 20°C. Although preprocessing coolers are generally held between 10 and 16°C, egg temperatures decline only slightly. Eggs are transported to the processing room and left until they are placed on the processing line.
In an in-line operation, the laying facility is attached to the processing facility. The eggs are automatically collected on belts that convey them into the processing facility. In in-line processing plants, internal egg temperatures generally range from 31 to 36°C when they reach the processing area. Egg temperature at processing is very important because U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations require that wash water temperature be at 32°C or higher, or at least 11 °C warmer than the highest egg temperature, and this temperature must be maintained throughout the cleaning cycle.
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