New egg labeling

USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has decreed that as of August 1999 egg cartons must bear a label indicating that eggs must be refrigerated and that uncracked, uncooked eggs must be kept at a temperature of 45°F while being processed and shipped to consumers.

Sounds simple, but a fight rages and may result in additional regulation, including warning labels. Under pressure from the egg industry, Congress ordered regulators in 1991 to produce such a rule to reduce salmonella enteritidis. Food safety experts, industry and regulators have been arguing ever since over whether the focus of the regulation should be on the internal temperature of the egg or the outside ambient temperature. Further complicating the issue was the fact that three agencies share regulatory authority over eggs. Congress finally told FSIS to issue a rule or see its 1998 appropriations cut by $5 million. The rule is out, but FSIS and FDA say this is just part of an overall strategy. That has the egg industry worried. Additional regulation, it says, could be damaging and expensive.

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