In today’s information age, when news of a food recall travels fast, consumers are more conscious than ever before about the importance of food safety. Fortunately, providing safe food is the top priority for those in food production. But it’s not always obvious to know how that focus translates into how foods like eggs are actually produced.
To help support consumers in making informed food choices regarding safe food, the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply (CSES) is leading a research project to understand how producing eggs in various hen housing systems impacts sustainability, including food safety.
How hen housing systems differ
The three housing systems being studied are known as a conventional cage system, which accounts for approximately 95 percent of eggs produced in the U.S.; an enriched colony cage system, which provides more space and activities for the hens than conventional; and a cage-free aviary system, which allows hens to roam through defined sectors of their barn exhibiting more natural behaviors.
Each housing system has different potential impacts on crucial aspects of egg production, such as animal welfare, the environment, and economics, which are also being studied. Initial findings from the CSES research, which will be published in their entirety in 2015, show that food safety is not impacted by the housing system those eggs are produced in, with each of them producing eggs that are safe to consume.
Food safety tips for your family
Regardless of how the eggs you purchase are produced, it’s important to always use safe food handling practices at home. Be sure to:
Refrigerate your eggs promptly when you return from the store
Wash your hands before and after handling eggs
Prevent cross-contamination between raw eggs and other food items
Cook eggs thoroughly to eliminate any potential foodborne bacteria
For more information about food safety and sustainable egg production, visit www.sustainableeggcoalition.org.