The Maryland Egg Quality Assurance Program (MEQAP) is a voluntary program to minimize the risk of Salmonella enteritidis (SE) contamination of chicken (shell) eggs and provide standards for the quality of eggs marketed under the provisions of this program. Producers and processors participating in this program make a commitment to implement management and monitoring practices that have been successful in preventing SE contamination. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) provides oversight, technical advice and compliance inspections for this program. The egg industry pays the costs of testing and inspection costs. The Maryland Department of Health and Human Hygiene (MDHMH) provides technical advice regarding public health implications. MEQAP participants are assuring the public that they are taking every reasonable precaution to assure the safety of shell eggs. Eggs that are produced, processed and packaged under the guidelines established in both the production and processing portions of the MEQAP program may be identified with the Maryland's Best logo.
The requirements of the production portion of the program provide for management and monitoring practices that have been successful in preventing SE contamination of flocks. Basic prevention measures include placement of SE clean chicks, rodent control, cleaning and disinfecting between flocks, environmental monitoring of pullet and layer houses with continuous testing of eggs from any environmentally positive houses and proper on farm handling of eggs. SE positive eggs are diverted for pasteurization.
The requirements of the processing portion of the program provide for management and monitoring practices that promote the proper handling of eggs produced under the production requirements of this program. The program provides guidelines for washing, refrigeration, labeling and quality control of shell eggs. Only eggs produced and processed according to the standards established in the production and processing programs or an MDA approved equivalent program may be identified with the Maryland's Best logo.
Contact:Food Quality Assurance Program(410) 841-5769Deanna.Baldwin@maryland.gov
50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis, MD 21401