Dr. Ken Anderson, who is creating online courses for AUFSI’s Virtual Food Systems Training Consortium, will be studying the safety of shell eggs in the U.S. as a result of a cooperative agreement between the Food and Drug Administration and NCSU’s Prestage Department of Poultry Science and the Piedmont Research Station Poultry Unit.

Anderson is a poultry science professor and Extension specialist at NCSU. For the training consortium (which is headquartered at Auburn), he is creating learning modules on Specialty Eggs and Layer Housing Management for inspectors of FDA-regulated foods.

In 2009, FDA issued the Egg Safety Rule, designed to prevent foodborne illnesses and deaths caused by consumption of eggs contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). This regulation requires industry to implement measures to prevent eggs from becoming contaminated with SE during their production in poultry houses and requires subsequent refrigeration of the eggs during storage and transportation.

The goal of the cooperative agreement is to research routes of transmission for Salmonella species, including SE, found within the egg production industry and to investigate how alterations in physical feed characteristics and housing might influence the transmission of Salmonella.

Of particular interest is determining whether other Salmonella serotypes, such as Salmonella Heidelberg (SH), behave similarly to SE, since outbreaks have been caused from consumption of eggs contaminated by SH. Findings from the studies will help FDA and members of the egg industry better understand routes of Salmonella transmission and the food safety controls necessary to prevent illnesses from consumption of shell eggs.

According to a press release, FDA pursued collaboration with NCSU’s Prestage Department of Poultry Science and the Piedmont Research Station Poultry Unit because their research facility mimic the size and scale of commercial poultry operations.

The Virtual Food Systems Training Consortium, a project of the Auburn University Food Systems Institute, brings together experts from Auburn, NCSU, Purdue University and Memphis State University to create online, on-demand training for inspectors of FDA-regulated foods.

Before designing training, AUFSI assessment specialist Regina Halpin consults with officials from numerous state health departments as well as the FDA to determine the most pressing needs. The consortium is funded through an agreement with FDA.