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Salmonella testing for egg producers and processors

Under the Food Production (Safety) Regulation 2014, eggs intended for sale or supply must not be sourced from birds that are affected by a disease (e.g., Salmonella enteritidis). Testing for the presence of Salmonella is a way to demonstrate that you comply with this requirement, as birds may not always show clinical signs of illness.

Below is some practical advice on how accreditation holders can meet the mandatory requirement for annual environmental testing for Salmonella on farm or in a processing facility.
  • What samples should I test?

    Testing of waste eggs that would normally be discarded while packing (e.g., cracked, dirty or unacceptable eggs) are a good indicator of whether Salmonella is present in your farming environment.

    You may choose to conduct other testing methods, such as drag swabs of bird ranging areas, but this requires more technical ability and can become less sensitive to finding Salmonella if not done correctly.

  • How do I collect a sample?

    A sample can be taken out of the waste bin/bucket at the end of the day’s production. It can include smashed eggs with bits of shell and eggs discarded throughout the process, from collection to grading, due to dirt or cracks.

    The sample is to be collected in a sterile jar which can be purchased through your preferred laboratory.

    Fill up a 125mL sterile jar with the waste liquid. Laboratories will need at least 25 grams of sample to test for Salmonella.

    This sample must then be stored and transported under chilled conditions to your laboratory.

    The laboratory will require you to complete a submission form containing all the relevant information for the sample. Ensure you let the laboratory know you are testing for Salmonella and that if your sample tests positive, you require further confirmation on what type of Salmonella it is.

    Determining the type of Salmonella is important as some are more serious than others.

  • When should I test?

    The best time to test is when birds are most likely to shed Salmonella. These are times when the bird is under stress such as commencement of laying (sexual maturity around 16 – 22 weeks of age) or moulting.

    At a minimum, a test is required to be conducted during each accreditation period (annually).

  • Where do I send my samples?

    Samples need to be tested at a NATA accredited laboratory.

    You can search for accredited laboratories on the NATA website using “Salmonella” as the keyword. This will return a list for all laboratories in Australia and you can then filter to show only Queensland. You will then need to contact the laboratory to determine if they are approved to test Salmonella on egg or egg products.

    As of June 2023, the following commercial laboratories were approved for Salmonella testing on eggs or egg products via the NATA website:

    Merieux Nutrisciences

  • How do I send my samples?

    Most laboratories offer a delivery service at a cost if you are unable to deliver them directly to the laboratory yourself. Talk to the laboratory about what services they provide to best suit your needs.

  • How much does testing cost?

    Testing costs vary between laboratories. It is recommended that you obtain pricing from multiple laboratories if possible and come to an agreement on the cost with your chosen lab before proceeding.

    Keep in mind – if Salmonella is detected in your samples and requires confirmation of the type, this will incur additional costs as more tests will need to be undertaken by the laboratory.

  • What do I do with the results?

    You will receive a final report from the laboratory once testing is complete. Read this report carefully and if Salmonella is detected, check what type it is. If you need help interpreting your results, Safe Food is happy to assist. You can email or call 07 3253 9800. Alternatively, reach out directly to a Safe Food Officer if they have visited your site before.

    Based on your test results, it may be a good time to review your farm controls to ensure that you are managing all the risks associated with Salmonella.

    Regardless of the result (positive or negative), your laboratory report must be supplied to Safe Food and kept as a record to show at your compliance audit. You can email it to  

  • Why is testing necessary?

    In early 2023, Queensland recorded its first ever detection of transovarian Salmonella enteritidis (SE) on a commercial egg farm. The importance of conducting targeted sampling has therefore never been more important, to not only protect your business, but the egg industry at large.

    Following an outbreak of SE in New South Wales in 2018/2019, the Queensland egg industry and Safe Food developed the SE Prevention Plan. Routine testing was included a part of the Standard Operating Procedures for this plan. Safe Food initially took an educational approach with accreditation holders in relation to this. However, now SE has been found in Queensland, the risks have changed and the need to test is more critical.

    Safe Food is committed to working with you to manage the risks of Salmonella and ensure Queensland’s egg industry remains sustainable.

Got questions?