7 CFR § 56.76 - Minimum facility and operating requirements for shell egg grading and packing plants.

§ 56.76 Minimum facility and operating requirements for shell egg grading and packing plants.

(a) Applicants must comply with all applicable Federal, State and local government occupational safety and health regulations.

(b) General requirements for premises, buildings and plant facilities.

(1) The outside premises shall be free from refuse, rubbish, waste, unused equipment, and other materials and conditions which constitute a source of odors or a harbor for insects, rodents, and other vermin.

(2) The outside premises adjacent to grading, packing, cooler, and storage rooms must be properly graded and well drained to prevent conditions that may constitute a source of odors or propagate insects or rodents.

(3) Buildings shall be of sound construction so as to prevent, insofar as practicable, the entrance or harboring of vermin.

(4) Grading and packing rooms shall be of sufficient size to permit installation of necessary equipment and conduct grading and packing in a sanitary manner. These rooms shall be kept reasonably clean during grading and packing operations and shall be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each operating day.

(5) The floors, walls, ceilings, partitions, and other parts of the grading and packing rooms including benches and platforms shall be constructed of materials that are readily cleanable, maintained in a sanitary condition, and impervious to moisture in areas exposed to cleaning solutions or moist conditions. The floors shall be constructed as to provide proper drainage.

(6) Adequate toilet accommodations which are conveniently located and separated from the grading and packing rooms are to be provided. Handwashing facilities shall be provided with hot and cold running water, an acceptable handwashing detergent, and a sanitary method for drying hands. Toilet rooms shall be ventilated to the outside of the building and be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition. Signs shall be posted in the toilet rooms instructing employees to wash their hands before returning to work. In new or remodeled construction, toilet rooms shall be located in areas that do not open directly into processing rooms.

(7) A separate refuse room or a designated area for the accumulation of trash must be provided in plants which do not have a system for the daily removal or destruction of such trash.

(8) Adequate packing and packaging storage areas are to be provided that protect packaging materials and are dry and maintained in a clean and sanitary condition.

(c) Grading and packing room requirements.

(1) The egg grading or candling area shall be adequately darkened to make possible the accurate quality determination of the candled appearance of eggs. There shall be no other light source or reflection of light that interfere with, or prohibit the accurate quality determination of eggs in the grading or candling areas.

(2) The grading and candling equipment shall provide adequate light to facilitate quality determinations. When needed, other light sources and equipment or facilities shall be provided to permit the detection and removal of stained and dirty eggs or other undergrade eggs.

(3) The grading and candling equipment must be sanitarily designed and constructed to facilitate cleaning. Such equipment shall be kept reasonably clean during grading and packing operations and be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each operating day.

(4) Egg weighing equipment shall be constructed of materials to permit cleaning; operated in a clean, sanitary manner; and shall be capable of ready adjustment.

(5) Adequate ventilation, heating, and cooling shall be provided where needed.

(d) Cooler room requirements.

(1) Cooler rooms holding shell eggs that are identified with a consumer grade shall be refrigerated and capable of maintaining an ambient temperature no greater than 45 °F (7.2 °C) and equipped with humidifying equipment capable of maintaining a relative humidity which will minimize shrinkage.

(2) Accurate thermometers and hygrometers shall be provided for monitoring cooler room temperatures and relative humidity.

(3) Cooler rooms shall be free from objectionable odors and from mold, and shall be maintained in a sanitary condition.

(e) Shell egg protecting operations.

(1) Shell egg protecting (oil application) operations shall be conducted in a manner to avoid contamination of the product and maximize conservation of its quality.

(2) Component equipment within the shell egg protecting system, including holding tanks and containers, must be sanitarily designed and maintained in a clean and sanitary manner, and the application equipment must provide an adequate amount of oil for shell coverage of the volume of eggs processed.

(3) Eggs with excess moisture on the shell shall not be shell protected.

(4) Oil having any off odor, or that is obviously contaminated, shall not be used in shell egg protection operations. Oil is to be filtered prior to application.

(5) The component equipment of the application system shall be washed, rinsed, and treated with a bactericidal agent each time the oil is removed.

(6) Adequate coverage and protection against dust and dirt shall be provided when the equipment is not in use.

(f) Shell egg cleaning operations.

(1) Shell egg washing equipment must be sanitarily designed, maintained in a clean and sanitary manner, and thoroughly cleaned at the end of each operating day.

(2) Shell egg drying equipment must be sanitarily designed and maintained in a clean and sanitary manner. Air used for drying purposes must be filtered. These filters shall be cleaned or replaced as needed to maintain a sanitary process.

(3) The temperature of the wash water shall be maintained at 90 °F (32.2 °C) or higher, and shall be at least 20 °F (6.7 °C) warmer than the internal temperature of the eggs to be washed. These temperatures shall be maintained throughout the cleaning cycle. Accurate thermometers shall be provided for monitoring wash water temperatures.

(4) Approved cleaning compounds shall be used in the wash water.

(5) Wash water shall be changed approximately every 4 hours or more often if needed to maintain sanitary conditions, and at the end of each shift. Remedial measures shall be taken to prevent excess foaming during the egg washing operation.

(6) Replacement water shall be added continuously to the wash water of washers. Chlorine or quaternary sanitizing rinse water may be used as part of the replacement water, provided, they are compatible with the washing compound. Iodine sanitizing rinse water may not be used as part of the replacement water.

(7) Only potable water may be used to wash eggs. Each official plant shall submit certification to the national office stating that their water supply is potable. An analysis of the iron content of the water supply, stated in parts per million, is also required. When the iron content exceeds 2 parts per million, equipment shall be provided to reduce the iron content below the maximum allowed level. Frequency of testing for potability and iron content shall be determined by the Administrator. When the water source is changed, new tests are required.

(8) Waste water from the egg washing operation shall be piped directly to drains.

(9) The washing, rinsing, and drying operations shall be continuous and shall be completed as rapidly as possible to maximize conservation of the egg's quality and to prevent sweating of eggs. Eggs shall not be allowed to stand or soak in water. Immersion-type washers shall not be used.

(10) Prewetting shell eggs prior to washing may be accomplished by spraying a continuous flow of water over the eggs in a manner which permits the water to drain away or other methods which may be approved by the Administrator. The temperature of the water shall be the same as prescribed in this section.

(11) Washed eggs shall be spray-rinsed with water having a temperature equal to, or warmer than, the temperature of the wash water. The spray-rinse water shall contain a sanitizer that has been determined acceptable for the intended use by the national supervisor and of not less than 100 p/m nor more than 200 p/m of available chlorine or its equivalent. Alternate procedures, in lieu of a sanitizer rinse, may be approved by the national supervisor.

(12) Test kits shall be provided and used to determine the strength of the sanitizing solution.

(13) During non-processing periods, eggs shall be removed from the washing and rinsing area of the egg washer and from the scanning area whenever there is a buildup of heat that may diminish the quality of the egg.

(14) Washed eggs shall be reasonably dry before packaging and packing.

(15) Steam, vapors, or odors originating from the washing and rinsing operation shall be continuously and directly exhausted to the outside of the building.

(g) Requirements for eggs officially identified with a grademark.

(1) Shell eggs that are officially identified with a grademark shall be placed under refrigeration at an ambient temperature no greater than 45 °F (7.2 °C) promptly after packaging.

(2) Eggs that are to be officially identified with the grademark shall be packed only in new or good used packing material and new packaging materials that are clean, free of mold, mustiness and off odors, and must be of sufficient strength and durability to adequately protect the eggs during normal distribution. When packed in other than fiber packing material, the containers must be of sound construction and maintained in a reasonably clean manner.

(h) Use of approved chemicals and compounds.

(1) All egg washing and equipment cleaning compounds, defoamers, destainers, sanitizers, inks, oils, lubricants, or any other compound that comes into contact with the shell eggs shall be approved by the national supervisor for their specified use and handled in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

(2) All pesticides, insecticides, and rodenticides shall be approved for their specified use and handled in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

[69 FR 76376, Dec. 21, 2004]