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December 05, 2008   Email to Friend 

Katie Jackson
(334) 844-5887
December 05, 2008

AUBURN, Ala. -- A national research center aimed at ensuring that table eggs are safe for consumers and that the $4.9 billion U.S. egg industry continues to thrive has been established at Auburn University.

The newly created National Egg Processing Center is a joint effort involving scientists at Auburn University, Clemson University, North Carolina State University, Purdue University, the University of Georgia, the University of Arkansas and the Egg Safety and Quality Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service in Athens, Ga.

Through this collaboration, the center will leverage egg-related research and outreach programs at each of the partner institutions, drawing on the different strengths and areas of expertise each has that are critical to sustaining the nation's egg industry.

"A university-based center can provide the expertise to address emerging issues, food safety and security threats," said center director and AU poultry science professor Patricia Curtis. "This center can help support the economically important egg industry while also ensuring that the eggs we rely on continue to be safe, healthful and delicious."

Auburn University proved to be an ideal location for the multidisciplinary center, in part because Alabama is a hub of poultry production but also because of the egg expertise located at Auburn and its collaboration with other member institutions, said Curtis, adding that efforts are under way to identify and recruit world-class scientists to conduct applied research on a wide range of egg processing and production issues.

Amid soaring production costs and a woeful economy, the egg industry's need for such a center has never been greater. The center's scientists will work to enhance efficiency, safety and quality of shell eggs and egg products, provide educational training programs and customized workshops focused on egg-related topics and provide additional egg-related courses in agricultural college curriculum.

"Keeping the egg industry competitive and productive in this global economy will help sustain and possibly improve the economic well-being of egg-producing states and also ensure that consumers worldwide continue to have access to safe, healthy and affordable eggs and egg products," said Curtis.

Specific research-related issues that the center will address in the next 12 to 24 months include evaluating the feasibility of using cold water to wash shell eggs, determining the impact of specific added ingredients on the pasteurization temperature of liquid eggs and identifying production-related factors that impact egg functionality.

In addition to research, the center plans to maintain an extensive Web-based technological information resource for the industry and provide a national clearinghouse and repository for advanced egg technology. It also will provide direct, on-going education through industry-targeted short courses, Webinars and seminars; develop and disseminate technical literature; and work to expand and increase partnerships and relationships with industry, government and other universities.

An Egg Advisory Council, made up of egg company and allied industry representatives will identify critical issues that the center's research, outreach and teaching efforts should address.

For more information on the center, contact Curtis at (334) 844-2639 or Pat_Curtis@auburn.edu, or please visit the center's Web site at www.ag.auburn.edu/nepc.

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