Overview and Inspection
The term egg products refer to processed and convenience forms of eggs for commercial, foodservice, and home use. These products can be classified as refrigerated liquid, frozen, dried, and specialty products. For many years, eggs were marketed primarily as shell eggs, but in recent years egg consumption in the form of egg products has increased.
Consumption of egg products in 1984 was 15% of the total eggs produced, or 25.6 million cases of shell eggs further processed. By 2003, the numbers increased to about 30% of the total egg production, or 60.9 million cases of shell eggs broken into egg products. Today, the production of frozen eggs has leveled out, some growth is noted in dried egg production, and production of refrigerated liquid eggs has greatly increased.
Many new convenience forms of egg products are reaching the marketplace, both in the home and through foodservice and commercially processed foods. In fact, tremendous growth of the use of egg products has occurred in the foodservice industry, particularly in breakfast menu items and in the utilization of hard-cooked eggs on salad bars.
Because they provide certain desirable functional attributes, egg products are widely used as ingredients in many food products.
Fueled by increasing consumer demand for more convenience food products, growth of the egg products industry is expected to continue.
The Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) was passed by Congress in 1970 to provide for the mandatory continuous inspection of the processing of liquid, frozen, and dried egg products. In 1995, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) became responsible for the inspection of processed eggs. FSIS inspects all egg products except for egg substitutes, imitation eggs, and freeze-dried products, which are inspected by the Department of Health and Human Services' Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Officially inspected egg products bear the USDA inspection mark.
Federal agriculture officials, or state officials acting on behalf of USDA, visit egg packers and hatcheries at least every three months to see that they are in compliance with the law. Companies that transport, ship, or receive shell eggs and egg products may also be checked periodically. Facilities that break, dry, and process shell eggs into liquid, frozen, or dried egg products must operate under a continuous USDA inspection program with an official inspector present at all times during processing. The law applies to all egg product processing facilities, regardless of size and to those selling products locally, across state lines, and internationally.
The fact that U.S. processed eggs are growing in popularity is evidenced by an ever increasing demand. With today's lifestyle demands of convenience, fewer calories, lowered fat content, food safety and economy, U.S. egg products are a perfect choice.