Product standards guideline - egg exports

This guideline sets out mandatory minimum testing requirements for export establishments that prepare egg products. Under Schedule 6 of the Export Control (Egg and Egg Products) Orders 2005, these requirements must be incorporated into your approved arrangement which will be verified through export audits. The document also contains specific requirements for egg products exported to the Singapore.

Background

Product testing assesses the performance of an export registered establishment’s food safety management system (approved arrangement) in producing compliant egg and egg products. A regular programme of product testing provides the Australian Government with a level of assurance, which allows us to issue export health certification.

Where the importing country has additional or different food standard to Australia, establishments must demonstrate compliance with these standard for all egg and egg products intended for export to that market.

Additional testing

This guideline mandates minimum testing requirements for some egg and egg products. Additional product testing may be required to verify that controls documented in your approved arrangement are effective in producing compliant egg and egg products. Accurate product descriptions and thorough hazard analysis of all product lines for the potential presence of contaminants, natural toxicants and residues will assist in determining where additional product testing is required to verify the adequacy of your approved arrangement.

Additional testing may also be required:

  • to verify that product complies with the relevant regulatory levels as detailed in the Australian New Zealand Food Standards Code (FSC) or as set by importing country authorities
  • to verify that action taken to address non-compliance has been effective
  • to verify that a specific shipment meets importing country requirements
  • as a result of sanctions.

Minimum testing requirements for export to Singapore are provided.

Known requirements of other importing countries can be found in the Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR).

When the department must be notified

Under Australia’s export legislation a registered establishment must notify the department when product has been found to be or is suspected of being unsafe and an export permit has been issued. Procedures for this must be covered in your approved arrangement.

Testing requirements

The minimum testing required for export is outlined in Tables 1 and 2. Table 2 outlines specific testing for contamination that may occur during and post sourcing and/or during manufacture (HACCP verification).
The testing requirements can be integrated into other testing that your establishment undertakes to meet domestic or commercial arrangements.

Conducting tests

If required by an importing country or if declarations relating to test results are required on certification, all testing must be carried out in a NATA or IANZ accredited laboratory. If not required for these purposes, testing can be conducted in-house or at non NATA-accredited laboratories.

Testing methods

Alternate test methods are permitted for sourcing and HACCP verification in Table 2 where the laboratory has determined equivalence to the test methods prescribed by the Food Standards Code (FSC), but may not be allowable for confirming specific declarations on certification.

Chemical and microbiological testing notes

The FSC (Standard 1.1.1) requires food to comply with the prescribed microbiological limits at any stage of manufacture or sale. Consideration should be given to sampling product at intervals that can verify shelf life and where ‘use by’ labelling is applied to packaging.

Testing may be minimised for certain environmental or sourcing hazards where valid technical data can be provided that supports the likelihood that eggs may contain levels of environmental contaminants within acceptable limits. For example, data from the National Residue Survey can be used to reduce the minimum testing tabled in this document on a case-by-case basis after consultation with the Dairy, Eggs and Fish Exports section.

Where the test is a presence/absence test for a specific food pathogen, the testing laboratory may composite the sub-samples and conduct one test. You should discuss your product testing needs with the laboratory before sending samples for analysis.

Note: if a composite sample returns a positive test result for the specific food pathogen, the product associated with the samples will be deemed non-compliant.

Antibiotic testing

Documented evidence of nil use of antibiotics, including in feed, may be used to justify minimum testing. National test results for antibiotics can be substituted for this test (if they are within 12 months) or where the supplier provides laboratory test results.

Product testing: verification testing of processing conditions (i.e. HACCP)

The frequency for testing egg products will depend on whether the establishment prepares the product types detailed and the intended use of these products.

Table 1 details egg products that require testing, according to risk, and provides corresponding minimum testing frequencies.

Table 1 Frequency of testing of product types specified in Table 2
Product risk category*

Product type

Test frequency

Low

Whole egg in shell.

Nil

High

Processed egg products made by:

  • adding food or food additives to eggs, contents of eggs or egg products
  • processing eggs by separating, drying, freezing, heating, fermenting, maturing
  • processing the ingredients, including:
  • whole egg liquid
  • liquid yolk
  • liquid white
  • whole egg powder
  • egg white powder
  • heat-formed product
  • salted egg
  • pidan.

3 monthly

* The risk categories apply to the listed egg products, assuming that the production and handling of the eggs and egg products does not compromise the integrity of the product.

Table 2 Minimum testing regime of egg products to verify HACCP—microbiological

Product type

Micro-organism

Sampling plan

Regulatory levels
(Food Standards Code, Standard 1.6.1)

n

c

m (cfu/g)

M (cfu/g)

Processed egg product

Salmonella

5

0

Not detected in 25 g

-

n= minimum number of sample units. c= maximum allowable number of defective sample units.
m= acceptable microbiological level in a sample unit. M= level that when exceeded in one or more samples would cause the lot to be rejected.

Microbiological criteria for Singapore

Sourcing

If you pack and export whole eggs and pasteurised egg products to Singapore, ensure that the layer farm has a Salmonella enteritidis (SE) monitoring and accreditation program in place. The program is approved and monitored by the relevant State Government Authority. The farm must also be approved by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA).

Check our Manual of Importing Country Requirements (MICoR) for more information about these requirements.