Disease Prevention On Commercial Farms

Q: Are hens given antibiotics? Are there antibiotics in my eggs?

A: Egg farmers are committed to producing safe, high-quality eggs and keeping their hens healthy and free from disease. Egg farms may use a limited number of FDA-approved antibiotics, provided they comply with FDA guidelines for usage. These FDA regulations also are designed to assure antibiotic residues are not passed to eggs.

Due to the effective use of vaccines and on-farm disease prevention, only a small percentage of egg-laying flocks ever receive antibiotics. If they do, it is usually under supervision of a veterinarian and only for a short time to treat a specific disease or to prevent a recurring disease.

It’s important to know eggs can only be labeled as antibiotic-free if egg farmers choose not to use any antibiotics in feed or water as the pullets (young hens) are growing or when hens are laying eggs. Certified organic eggs must be antibiotic-free by regulation.

Q: What measures do farms use to prevent spread of AI?

A: America’s egg farmers are vigilant in keeping their flocks free from disease and assuring the safety of eggs and egg products provided for customers. Egg farmers employ a number of rigorous biosecurity guidelines, including, but not limited to:

  • Restricting on-farm access to essential employees only;

  • Following on-farm disinfecting procedures such as the use of foot baths;

  • Housing hens indoors to prevent access to wild birds and waterfowl;

  • Limiting movement between farm operations;

  • Requiring protective gear be used at all times for anyone who enters egg farms; and

  • Working closely with animal health experts and veterinarians to monitor flocks.

Q: Can I catch AI from the eggs or meat I eat?

A: No. Avian influenza can’t be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked eggs, chicken or turkey. As a reminder, however, all eggs, chicken and turkey should be cooked thoroughly and at the recommended temperatures to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses. To learn more about cooking and handling eggs, visit USDA’s food safety question and answer page.

Q: Is AI a risk to public health?

A: The identified strains found on commercial egg and turkey farms have not affected the health of any humans and are not considered a risk to public health.

Q: Is there AI on egg farms?

A: Yes, there have been positive findings of AI on commercial egg farms. Egg farmers work diligently to care for their flocks and prevent the disease from entering their farms.

Q: As a consumer, what should I know about the recent identification of avian influenza (AI)?

A: America’s egg farmers understand and share consumers’ concerns about AI. Together with turkey and chicken producers, egg farmers have put comprehensive measures in place to limit the spread of avian influenza.

Q: What is avian influenza?

A: Avian influenza (AI), a virus commonly known as the bird flu, is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus.

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