Egg Standards of Australia
ESA is a voluntary quality assurance program, replacing the previous egg industry program Egg Corp Assured (ECA). It has been developed through an extensive consultation process and represents a robust, credible and workable QA standard that meets the needs of regulators and retailers. ESA is a practical mechanism for delivering more consistent quality outcomes across the egg industry and provides the framework to demonstrate compliance.
ESA provides greater clarity and a more robust set of compliance standards that have been independently reviewed against current Australian retailer and regulatory requirements.
ESA has been developed (based on the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)) to provide a compliance framework for egg producers and processors in meeting the needs of regulators, retailers, farmers and egg buyers in areas including hen welfare, egg quality, biosecurity, food safety, work health and safety and environmental management.
There are two components to ESA covering the rearing of day-old chicks up to the packing of eggs to supply.
ESA for Rearing and Laying Farms covers the industry practices relating to day old chicks or started pullets to the farm, up to the point of removal of started pullets, spent hens and eggs for human consumption from the farm. This component can be used for the following types of egg production systems: Cage, Barn and Free Range.
ESA for Grading and Packing Floors covers the general requirements for the collection, grading, washing, packing and delivery of shell eggs as well as the hygienic manufacture, storage, packaging and distribution of egg pulp and egg products for sale or supply for human consumption only.
The components are structured into multiple levels to enable a broader range of adoption at a level that suits farm business’ needs and customer requirements.
- Level 1 – Basic: An entry level for egg farmers who are new to the egg industry or who have not previously participated in a quality assurance program. Egg farms certified at this level are audited to Level 1 compliance criteria. (Level 1 is only available for the Rearing and Layer Standard)
- Level 2 – Core: An intermediate level suited to egg farmers with a more developed compliance system and record keeping procedures, to meet regulatory requirements. Egg farms certified at this level must be audited against both Level 1 and Level 2 compliance criteria.
- Level 3 – Comprehensive: An advanced level suited to egg farmers with a fully developed compliance system and record keeping procedures, to meet the requirements of major retail customers. Egg farms certified at this level must be audited against all three levels of compliance criteria.
The structure is aimed at encouraging broad industry participation, improved compliance outcomes and demonstrate continuous improvement as egg farmers transition through the Levels.
There is no cost for an egg business to join the ESA program and access ESA resources (available through your My AusEggs login). Once a business has implemented ESA and seeks certification, farmers will need to meet the full cost of the annual compliance audit for each site.
Unannounced audits may be conducted under ESA, where a formal complaint has been made and Australian Eggs considers an audit is justified in order to maintain the integrity of the program. Under such circumstances, Australian Eggs will meet the full cost of the audit cost.
Egg farmers will have a choice of four certification bodies (SGS, BSI, AusQual and MXNS) to conduct their ESA audit. All ESA approved auditors have the appropriate qualifications and experience to conduct egg production audits. The consistency of audit process is closely monitored.
The ESA program will be administered by AUS-MEAT from 1 August 2018. AUS‐MEAT will manage audit scheduling, audit reporting and issuing of certificates. They can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. All participating ESA members were notified of the change of scheme administrator on the 10 July 2018 via email. If you did not receive this email, please contact us to update your details.
Workshops are delivered nationally (from time-to-time) by Australian Eggs to assist with providing farmers with a better understanding of the requirements of ESA and the audit process. Further implementation support is available through an Interpretation Guideline (available at My AusEggs) that is intended to provide support and accompaniment to the Standard by identifying and suggesting methods of compliance. It is important to remember that the Standard is the Standard and the Guideline has been prepared to provide guidance only.
An “on-the-go” checklist tool has been developed for ESA Rearing and Laying and is available through the MyAusEggs app. This tool helps farmers prepare for audit with keeping track on elements they are compliant on and what they need to re-visit. Please note that this checklist only encompasses ESA for Rearing and Laying Standard at this point in time.
This app is free to download, and is available to both iOS and android devices through the Google Play and App Store.
The formal call for feedback for Rearing and Laying, as well as the for the feedback for the development of Grading and Packing is now closed, thank you to all those who took the time to attend a workshop or returned feedback throughout the process.Your participation ensures ESA continues to remains the robust standard it is, providing a compliance framework for farms to demonstrate best practice and continuous improvement.
While formal calls for feedback are closed, ESA participants are welcome to continue submitting feedback on the Standards to Australian Eggs. All feedback received is catalogued and will be used as the starting point for the next review. Australian Eggs acknowledges that quality assurance is not static, and will continue to review the Standards in line with regulatory or major retailer requirement updates.
As with ESA for Rearing and Layer Farms, an intial post-implementation review will be undertaken in 2019 of ESA for Grading and Packing to identify any implementation issues or incompatible elements in relation to updates of retailer or regulatory requirements. We understand the prospect of further change to ESA over time is a source of concern to egg farmers, particularly given that in many cases, investments may be required to ensure compliance. However, it is important to recognise that Australian Eggs does not control this process. ESA in its current form reflects external regulator and customer requirements only and Australian Eggs has made every effort to minimise the impact of evolving or conflicting standards on egg farmers. This approach will continue to be taken in the post-implementation review.
For information on the audit process and to register for ESA, please contact AUS-MEAT on (07) 3361 9200 or email email@example.com.