News and analysis on the global poultry
and animal feed industries.
Dr. Pat Curtis
on November 14, 2008

IEC 2008: NEPC education meets global needs

NEPC's Outreach Program provides educational training programs and customized workshops that focus on egg-related topics of global importance.

A broad range of egg industry topics comprise the research and outreach programs being conducted at the National Egg Processing Center (NEPC) at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., United States. NEPC’s goals are to conduct research in areas that impact the final quality and safety of eggs and egg products, and to communicate those findings the industry.

In the last 10 to 15 years, there has been a significant decline in poultry science departments across the United States. NEPC’s teaching curriculum provides egg-related courses to enhance agricultural college offerings. An online course on HACCP for eggs, and podcasts focusing on egg-related topics are under development.

The Outreach Program provides educational training programs and customized workshops that focus on egg-related topics, including international HACCP Alliance accredited programs.

An NECP multimedia simulation of “how the egg is formed” is available on the Web.

Dr. Pat Curtis enumerated several of the projects currently underway.

Extensive research underway

Egg research includes:

  • Comparison of the egg nutrients from range and cage reared flocks.
  • Nutritional methods to prevent osteoporosis in laying hens.
  • Effects of alternative moulting programs and population on layer performance.
  • Effects of bird age, density and moult on behavioral profiles of two commercial layer strains in cages.
  • Impact of strain on environmental and fecal microbial load and salmonella prevalence during two production cycles.
  • Development of methods to reduce ammonia emissions and ammonia capturing technologies.
  • Avian influenza virus.
  • Comparison of vitelline membrane strength among breeds of commercial layers.
  • Development of improved killed vaccines for Salmonella enteritidis.

Shell egg research includes:

  • Characterization of bacterial populations on shell eggs throughout commercial processing.
  • Evaluation of natural and organic egg production.
  • Survey of shell egg processing plant sanitation programs.
  • Susceptibility of laser-etched shell eggs to internal salmonella contamination.
  • Effect of testing temperature on internal egg quality measurements.
  • Determination of cooling rates and carbon dioxide uptake in commercially processed shell eggs using cryogenic carbon dioxide gas.
  • Effects of layer strain and egg storage on microbial contamination in inoculated shell eggs.
  • Temperature sequence of eggs from oviposition through distribution.

Egg products research includes:

  • Factors affecting the antimicrobial efficacy of nisin in liquid whole egg.
  • Determining the thermal inactivation and growth potential of salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and coagulase-positive Staphylococcus aureus in high solids egg mixes.
  • Egg pasteurisation and protein separation.
  • The impact of pasteurisation temperature on the functional properties of egg products.
  • Assessment of the survivability of antibiotic resistant salmonella in processed liquid eggs.
  • Comparison of traditional versus microwave technologies to determine proximate composition of egg products.

Other projects include:

  • An evaluation of cooking methods to kill Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Heidelberg.
  • Effect of layer hen strain on quality and functionality of eggs over two production cycles.
  • Comparison of cage versus range production on egg functionality and sensory evaluation.
  • Evaluation of range management on the quality, functionality and safety of free-range eggs.
  • Enzymatic and microbiological inhibitory activity in egg shell membranes as influenced by layer strains, age and storage variables.
  • Identification of the components in egg shell membrane responsible for reducing heat resistance of bacterial pathogens.
  • Comparative investigation of the chicken and human plasma proteome: implications for biomarker discovery in epithelial ovarian cancer.



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