The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set the goal of inspecting 600 of the largest egg farms in the United States by the end of 2011.
The plan, which targets farms that have 50,000 or more hens, will give the government an updated look at the sources of 80% of the nation's eggs. The inspections will begin in September and will be conducted as part of a new FDA rule that went into effect in July regarding the prevention of salmonella in shell eggs. The ultimate goal is to prevent salmonella contamination and the resulting outbreaks from occurring. In the past, many inspections have taken place only after a contamination has been reported.
The FDA said it believes the new safeguards could reduce the number of salmonella cases by 60%. In their inspections, officials will be looking for safety violations that could increase the likelihood of contamination. They will be analyzing the proper refrigeration of eggs, adherence to employee sanitation standards and any unsafe bacteria around the farms.