Keeping Eggs Safe

August’s Salmonella scare and subsequent egg recall caused many of the country’s consumers to think twice before diving into their breakfasts, but it turns out that people who purchased their eggs from Pennsylvania’s producers had little to worry about. That’s because Pennsylvania-produced eggs are safer to eat, according to poultry experts in the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Nearly two decades ago, Penn State researchers helped egg producers in the Keystone State implement the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program (PEQAP) to guard against egg contamination. “Pennsylvania producers didn’t want to sell eggs that would hurt people,” said Paul Patterson, a professor of poultry science who is involved in PEQAP. “So they got very aggressive about reducing Salmonella enteritidis on their farms.”Brown eggs in carton (

The first of its kind in the nation, PEQAP does not guarantee that eggs are free of Salmonella, but it does assure that producers implement management and monitoring practices that reduce contamination from the bacterium. In return, the eggs of producers that meet the program’s standards are certified with a logo that appears on egg cartons.

PEQAP eventually became the model for a national egg-safety program that was implemented in July. “If the federal regulations to protect against Salmonella enteritidis contamination of eggs had been in place earlier, last summer’s outbreak and egg recall may not have occurred,” said Patterson.