The FDA has proposed an obligatory on-farm salmonella control check in order to reduce the risk of salmonella illnesses caused by infected eggs.

While the move has been welcomed by the Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) as long overdue, some within the US egg production industry are worried that the threat of disease is being exaggerated.

The new plan therefore requires egg farms to conduct an environmental test of each flock, followed by a series of egg tests if SE is found. If there are continued positive results, the eggs could not be sold to consumers as raw shell eggs.

Since 1995, the number of illnesses from SE in the US declined 52 per cent , from an average of 3.88 illnesses per 100,000 people to an average of 1.85 illnesses per 100,000 people in 2002, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Salmonella Surveillance System.

Numerous procedures have been implemented, such as the rule requiring eggs to be refrigerated during distribution and storage at retail stores. That regulation went into effect in June of 2001.