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Announcement - UpdateJuly 24, 2013

The National Organic Program (NOP) is pleased to announce draft guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This resource addresses how the FDA's "Egg Safety" rule applies to outdoor access areas.

Comment Opportunity: Egg Safety

In July 2009, FDA published requirements to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis during the production and handling of shell eggs. For example, egg producers must swab and test all poultry "houses" for this harmful pathogen on a routine basis.

When FDA was initially implementing the "Egg Safety" rule in 2011, many organic egg layer operations had concerns about how a poultry "house" was defined, and whether such requirements would extend to open outdoor areas.

In response, FDA and USDA began a two-year collaboration to develop guidance that would allow organic and pasture-based egg producers to comply with both sets of requirements.

The NOP provided FDA information about the year-round outdoor access requirements for organic poultry and offered feedback throughout the process. We also led farm tours to demonstrate various egg production models, including open outdoor areas, mobile units, and porches.

This draft guidance supports continued growth in the organic egg sector by clarifying that:

  1. Open outdoor areas aren't part of the poultry "house" and are therefore exempt from requirements specific to poultry "houses."
  2. Covering the entire open outdoor area with netting isn't a requirement. Other effective wild animal deterrents, such as noise cannons, may be used instead.
  3. Vaccinating birds against Salmonella Enteritidis isn't a substitute for meeting the specified egg safety requirements.

We sincerely thank the FDA for working to protect consumers in a manner that supports the unique needs of the organic egg sector. Both agencies look forward to your comments to help meet this shared goal.

Submit Public Comments
Deadline: September 23, 2013  

We also thank the poultry operators around the United States that invited us onto their farms, as well as the Organic Trade Association and other industry groups for their assistance in setting up farm tours. 

View FDA Draft Guidance - Outdoor Access

View FDA Constituent Update 

View FDA Egg Guidance Documents + Regulatory Information 

Learn About Organic Livestock Requirements 

About the National Organic Program (NOP)

The NOP facilitates trade and ensures integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations throughout the world. The NOP is part of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, which facilitates the competitive and efficient marketing of agricultural products. Learn more.

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