Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Pathogen-free, consumer-friendly eggs

A recent EU-funded project developed a cheap, safe and fast egg sterilisation system for use in the egg industry.
Pathogen-free, consumer-friendly eggs
Eggs are popular food items in the EU, but they are sometimes vulnerable to food-borne pathogens like Salmonella. Such pathogens can be transmitted to the eggs either directly from infected hens or during manipulation.

The EGGSTERILISATION project investigated a novel egg sterilisation system to address this issue. Project objectives included developing a system that reduces bacterial concentration on the egg surface from 0.01 % to 0.0001 % of the initial concentration. In addition, the research team wanted the sterilisation process to be low-cost, clean and safe, and to not harm the egg shells in any way.

Project partners developed two prototypes — one for use in the laboratory and one for use in industrial settings. The latter is able to sterilise 3 600 eggs per hour and is fully automated. The system uses an atmospheric pressure plasma system and sterilisation rates vary from 90 % to 99.95 % depending on the plasma conditions used and time of exposure.

EGGSTERILISATION project deliverables promise further savings in health costs since related developments could reduce the impact of food-borne pathogens. In addition, there is great potential for the system's use in the organic food market as it is non-invasive, chemical-free and has no effect on the quality and nutritional value of the eggs.

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