U.S – The US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Egg Regulatory Officials (NERO) have announced a new initiative for state egg and egg product regulators entitled the Egg Regulatory Program Standards (ERPS), designed to integrate the regulatory activities of partner agencies into a process for improving egg and egg product safety in the US.
The new standards are exclusive to egg and egg product regulatory organizations, not for manufacturers or growers of eggs.
The ERPS are comprised of 10 individual standards namely regulatory foundation, training program, inspection program, inspection audit program, egg-related illness, outbreak and emergency response, compliance and enforcement program, outreach activities, program resources, program assessment and laboratory support.
The 10 standards, intended to strengthen the safety and integrity of the US egg and egg product supply, are also the core elements of a state’s regulatory programme. The ERPS will provide a framework that every state can use to determine the strengths and challenges of their system.
In 2016, FDA awarded a cooperative agreement to two state programmes whose charge was to provide recommendations for national Egg Regulatory Program Standards (ERPS).
Subsequently, in 2019, a committee comprised of officials from FDA, state agencies, industry and the National Egg Regulatory Officials (NERO) was established to review the recommendations of the awardees.
The result of the committee’s collaborative work is the development of the first edition of the ERPS, which the FDA hopes will strengthen states’ egg regulatory programs.
Integrated Food Safety System
These program standards reflect an effort in which FDA has been engaged to partner, leverage and empower agencies to move the vision of a nationally Integrated Food Safety System (IFSS).
The ERPS is a critical component in establishing FDA’s IFSS. They establish a uniform foundation for regulatory agencies responsible for oversight of eggs and egg products. When fully implemented, the program standards define a set of best practices of a regulatory system.
Conformance with the program standards requires a regulatory agency to continuously assess, evaluate, and take necessary corrective actions to address gaps.
According to the FDA, the ERPS will also provide the foundation for mutual reliance on inspections and other work conducted by federal and state agencies.
The creation of National Egg Regulatory Officials (NERO) was a result of the foresight of several dedicated state shell egg regulators who shared the goal of a national uniform set of regulations governing the sale and movement of shell eggs to the consumer.
It was and continues to be their belief that a collective and organized voice serves as an effective conduit for change.