How does it work?
Through a State trust agreement with the USDA, the Egg Products Control program provides personnel and supervision for all of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs. These programs include Resident Grading, Lot Grading, Surveillance and School Lunch Inspections.
How does resident grading work?
This is a service provided by the USDA. The packer/ranch pays for the service. The state supplies the personnel, supervision and sets the rates paid for the service. A grader is stationed at the plant and is responsible for verifying that sanitation and quality requirements are met. Before processing starts, the grader performs a sanitation pre-op check. Product is then graded, continuously, off the production line.
How does lot grading work?
This is another service provided by the USDA. Lot grading refers to the service of grading a stationary lot of eggs for a fee. For example, a dealer contacts our program and states that they have 250 cases of large eggs, which they would like to have graded. A time and place is set. A grader goes to the location, grades the eggs, stamps the cases and then issues a USDA certificate. The certificate also acts as a billing document. The charges for the grading service include travel time, mileage and the time involved in grading the product. The applicant (person/company requesting the service) can then use the certificate as a marketing tool.
How does surveillance work?
This program deals mainly with egg packers and processors who must register their facility with the Surveillance program. It is not a service but rather a compliance issue that is concerned more with food safety than with grade/quality factors. Product that exceeds Grade B tolerances is retained. The Surveillance visit (inspection) is done by a licensed USDA Surveillance Inspector. The visits are conducted every three months. Eggs that are cracked (checks), leaking, dirty or inedible are considered “restricted eggs”. Restricted eggs must be identified and handled in a specific manner.
Temperature, labeling and records reviews (receiving and shipping documents) are also subject to compliance. The inspection is limited to the product processed at that location. Eggs processed elsewhere are not subject to inspection. When a non-compliance is found regarding Grade B tolerances, labeling temperature and/or record keeping, it is documented on the Surveillance Inspection report (PY-210). A follow up visit must be done in that same quarter to verify that the non-compliance has been corrected. A letter is sent to the packer/processor from the USDA regional office. The letter states that the packer is in violation of the Egg Products Inspection Act. If the packer continues to violate the EPIA, they may have to appear in court resulting in fines and/or incarceration. Food safety is a serious issue. The Egg Products Control program is reimbursed by the federal government for the Surveillance visits.
Is the program involved in school lunches?
Yes. The USDA assists the poultry industry in limiting large fluctuations in the poultry products market. The USDA stabilizes the market for the all consumers by providing USDA poultry products to the national school lunch programs. The School Lunch Inspection program involves the condition inspection of these products for wholesomeness. The process involves breaking the official seals on the semi-trailers, selecting samples of frozen product, and drilling the product in order to obtain the temperature. An organoleptic inspection is done and a USDA certificate is prepared. The EPC program is reimbursed by the USDA for the work done in regards to the school lunch program.