US bill requires Salmonella vaccination of New York layer chickens

20-10-2010 | |

Two New York lawmakers have introduced a bill that would require any eggs sold in New York State to come from chickens that have been vaccinated against salmonella.

The introduction of this bill is in response to the nation’s largest recall of eggs. The requirement would include eggs produced by New York farmers, and those that are imported from neighbouring states.

New York egg producers say the bill focuses only on a small fraction of what should be a comprehensive approach to sanitation in egg houses. Egg farmers say that smart management of their operations and strict sanitary controls go a long way to preventing salmonella outbreaks like the one that struck an Iowa egg producer in August.

Salmonella vaccination
Many of those controls are already governed by a state-run program that most large-scale producers follow. Salmonella vaccination alone will not protect consumers, but must be included as part of any on-the-farm food safety program, Brian Kavanagh said. Kavanagh is a New York Assemblyman and represents Manhattan. “We’ve become persuaded that although vaccination is not a silver bullet, it should be part of a comprehensive program,” he said. “It is considered to be part of the best practice by some producers.”

But some decry the legislation, saying the bill has no chance of passing. “It is not going anywhere,” said Peter Gregg, spokesman for the New York Farm Bureau. New York has not had an outbreak of salmonella linked to eggs produced in the state since the 1980s, Gregg said. A voluntary egg quality assurance program, managed by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, governs nearly 90 percent of the eggs produced in New York, he said. This voluntary farm management tool has been in place since the mid-1990s. Salmonella vaccination is not part of the program, but New York producers are already using chickens vaccinated for salmonella in their operations.