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Improving quality and safety of hen eggs in a new production system by reinforcing the antimicrobial natural defence and by developing tools for grading eggs *

Contract nr: QLRT-CT-2000-01606
Project type: RS (Research and Technological Development Project)
Starting date:
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 3,602,494 EUR
EC Contribution: 2,643,632 EUR
Scientific Officer:
Research topic: 5.1.1. Sustainable agriculture/Animal Systems

Abstract:
An egg is a pre-packed food that is vulnerable to external microbiological loads. Eggs are the major cause of Salmonella food poisoning in man. The mechanical protection afforded by the eggshell barrier and the antibacterial properties of membranes and egg white are influenced by several factors. These include physiology, genetics, housing systems of the hen and storage conditions of the egg. Together they determine the potential infectious risk for humans.

It is proposed:
1) to analyse and measure the variation in these factors;
2) to develop a mathematical model to predict the microbiological risks due to these factors;
3) to genetically improve the egg's defence systems eggshell/albumen);
4) to develop novel, real time, non-invasive grading systems and eliminate unsafe eggs; and
5) to define the optimal egg-laying and egg-storage conditions for alternative systems, which legally must replace battery cages in Europe by 2012.

This project aims to guarantee the safety and quality of eggs to consumers in a new production system respectiving hen welfare and to improve EU competitiveness favouring employment.

Objectives:
Our objectives are to optimise the quality and safety of table eggs in new production systems aiming to improve the welfare of hens. This will be achieved by understanding the factors which cause variation and by reinforcing the natural defence of eggs which prevent bacterial penetration and growth.

We propose to:
1) Evaluate the new production systems (which will replace conventional battery cages in 2012) for egg quality and bacterial contamination;
2) Model the risk of bacterial contamination in the old and new housing systems, considering the changes in egg quality due to physiology, genetics and storage conditions;
3) Improve the egg's natural defence by understanding the origin of eggshell defects and by selecting hens for high eggshell quality (using marker-assisted selection), and high antibacterial egg white activity by conventional selection; and

4) Develop novel, real time, non-invasive systems for grading eggs that will eliminate eggs with potential risks for the consumer.


Coordinator
Nathalie POUVREAU
Station de Recherches Avicoles
Nouzilly
FRANCE
Tel.: +33 2 47427857
Fax: +33 2 47427777
E-mail: Nathalie.Pouvreau@tours.inra.fr


Partners
  Hans CLAES
Department of animal science
Heverlee
BELGIUM
Tel.: +32 16326503
Fax: +32 16326515
E-mail: hans.claes@lrd.kuleuven.ac.be
  Karl Otto HONIKEL
Institut für Chemie und Physik
Kulmbach
GERMANY
Tel.: +49 9221803200
Fax: +49 9221803303
E-mail: kohonikel.baff@t-online.de
  Herwig KEYMEULEN
Agricultural research centre-department of animal product quality
Melle
BELGIUM
Tel.: +32 92722403
Fax: +32 92722401
E-mail: H.Keymeulen@clo.fgov.be
  John WITHERS
DIVISION OF INTEGRATIVE BIOLOGY/ ROSLIN INSTITUTE (EDINBURGH)
Roslin/Midlothian
UNITED KINGDOM
Tel.: +44 1315274200
Fax: +44 1314400434
E-mail: john.withers@bbsrc.ac.uk
  Kirsten SAMS
VETERINARY SCHOOL DEPARTMENT OF VETERINARY ANATOMY
Glasgow
UNITED KINGDOM
Tel.: +44 1413302514
Fax: +44 1413302747
E-mail: k.sams@enterprise.gla.ac.uk
  Klas ELWINGER
Animal nutrition and management, Attn. Ragnar Tauson
Uppsala
SWEDEN
Tel.: +46 18674530
Fax: +46 18674501
E-mail: Klas.Elwinger@huv.slu.se
  Pierre THIVEND
ENSAR DÉPARTEMENT AGRO-ALIMENTAIRE LABORATOIRE DE MICROBIOLOGIE
Rennes
FRANCE
Tel.: +33 2 23485000
Fax: +33 2 23485010
E-mail: thivend@agrorennes.educagri.fr
  France MALETTE
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Medicine cellular and molecular medicine
Ottawa
CANADA
Tel.: +1 613 56258008193
Fax: +1 613 5625988
E-mail: fmalette@uottawa.ca
  Rudolf PREISINGER
Lohmann Tierzucht Gmbh
Cuxhaven
GERMANY
Tel.: +49 4721505126
Fax: +49 472138852
E-mail: preisinger@ltz.de
  Yves COURTILLÉ
HUBBARD-ISA
Quintin
FRANCE
Tel.: +33 4 74610220
Fax: +33 4 78953806
  Andres MALDONADO
Laboratorio de Estudios Cristalográficos, Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra
Granada
SPAIN
Tel.: +34 958244159
Fax: +34 958243384
E-mail: amaldona@ugr.es