Sauder's Eggs Strive for Quality

R.W Sauder, Inc., one of Lancaster County's largest employers, hosted government and industry officials for the signing of the poultry health agreement and unveiling of the PEQAP logo. Over 250 employees at Sauder's plant in Lititz process 7,000 to 8,000 cases of eggs per day.

"With the control measures and testing protocols developed for the Pennsylvania Egg Quality Assurance Program, we are reasonably sure that the eggs coming into our plant are free of salmonella," according to Thomas Fox, quality control manager. 'We constantly monitor the eggs and keep them refrigerated to prevent any foodborne illness from developing."

The eggs are placed into stainless steel washers, with 200 gallons of fresh water constantly circulating around them as rollers and brushes wash them with a special soap. They are rinsed and sanitized in fresh water, then warm air dries the eggs as they move along a conveyor belt. Visually unappealing eggs, leakers and misshaped eggs are removed from the line by hand.

"Egg shells are very coarse," Fox said, "so a thin coat of mineral oil seals the shell to protect it. The eggs proceed to the candling booth, where employees look at the interior of egg, again pulling any undesirable eggs off the line. Utilizing both manual and automatic candlers, the eggs roll over ultra sound to detect any cracks which may have occurred in the shell."

Computerized machines weigh and separate the eggs by size as they roll down the conveyer belt. The eggs are then placed into cases, with each case still separated by its originating flock. Most of the eggs are packed with 30 dozen eggs per case, although they deal in 15 dozen and 20 dozen cases, depending upon the individual buyer. After the cartons are packed, they are all coded and labeled with the date, USDA plant number and flock number.

The cartons are moved immediately into the shipping cooler, where they await their final destination. With five additional plants, Sauder's eggs are shipped to consumers in several Mid-Atlantic states and exported to Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The company also runs a collection service for used egg cartons. Foam cartons are gathered for melt-down and are eventually made into park benches and picnic tables. Although the pulp cartons are made from recycled materials, the used cartons can't be recycled because of the ink.

"Refrigeration at 45 degrees F. is the best way to control foodborne bacteria on the farm, at the store and in your home," Fox said. "The temperature of Sauder's eggs is consistently controlled from the time they're laid, through processing, until they are delivered to your grocer.

"We even operate our own fleet of refrigerated delivery trucks to be sure. We are going to great lengths to produce the best quality products, but once the eggs leave our plant, it is up to the consumer to handle them properly."

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