Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), a non-profit watchdog organization that advocates better farming practices to protect human health, charged today that the Kingston Amendment, part of the House Agriculture Appropriations Bill approved in committee on Wednesday, May 10, will not protect American consumers from Salmonella enteritidis (SE), a deadly bacteria. SE is found in the eggs of contaminated chickens. The Center for Science and the Public Interest (CSPI) also opposes the Kingston Amendment, which calls for random testing of eggs, rather than environmental testing of all egg-producing flocks, that, according to FACT and CSPI, is the only effective way to protect consumers from SE.
Rejecting egg industry claims that SE environmental testing is too costly, FACT, which operates its own egg farms, maintains testing would cost egg producers only $.0018 dollar per dozen, less than one-fifth of one cent. FACT is able to calculate the actual costs of SE testing because it has tested its flocks in Pennsylvania for SE since 1991. In this analysis, the organization established $40 as the market base for the cost of testing and used the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program (PEQAP) as the testing model.
FACT argues that this cost should be borne by the egg producers and not, as the Kingston Amendment stipulates, by the Food and Drug Administration, which ultimately, means the taxpayer. With the amendment, the FDA would have to pay an annual $10.5 million for pullet and layer house tests on all U.S. egg farms, according to the FACT analysis.
Richard Wood, Executive Director of FACT, said: “The Kingston Amendment puts the egg industry wish list ahead of public health and science. We strongly urge the House to reject this amendment, which essentially lets the egg industry dictate how the testing will be done and how much it will cost the FDA, rather than allowing a science-based regulatory process to work.”
Caroline Smith DeWaal, of the CSPI, said: “SE in eggs causes hundreds of thousands of illnesses and hundreds of deaths each year. Congress should act to speed government action to improve egg safety, rather than standing in the way.”
FACT and CSPI call for:
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mandatory on-farm environmental testing for SE on all egg
diversion from the market for all eggs from flocks found SE
implementation of on-farm steps to reduce the occurrence of
Since 1982, FACT has advocated better farming practices to protect consumers from foodborne illnesses, worked to improve the safety of milk and eggs, and promoted the humane husbandry of food animals.