A hefty investment in infrastructure has created a new niche for Australian Pasteurised Eggs (APE), which is the only company in Australia capable of providing a pasteurised whole shell egg solution to the food industry.
The Australian-owned company is based in Darling Downs west of Toowoomba and it uses technology exclusively licensed from US-based Michael Foods.
APE is only the third company in the world to be granted the licence to use the patented PSE technology, and Safe Eggs, trading as Australian Pasteurised Eggs, is gearing up for processing half a million whole eggs per day. The move comes against a backdrop of food safety concerns.
The $829 million egg industry has seen several outbreaks of salmonella linked to the poor handling of unpasteurised raw eggs, and more than 20 people were affected with suspected salmonella poisoning last year, linked to eggs from a NSW farm.
Australian Pasteurised Eggs director of commercial Geoff Sondergeld says Safe Eggs will take some of the risk out of the food supply chain with its new $20 million Queensland plant.
“If you look at the statistics for food-borne illnesses in Australia, we have one of the highest incidence rates in any developed country in the world. And it’s not necessarily because our food isn’t produced safely, it’s what we do with it within the food supply chain,” Sondergeld says.
“I was looking at some research and the mishandling of eggs in the supply chain is one of the single biggest contributors to food-borne illness. So I determined that there’s got to be some options or solutions.”
The process of pasteurisation, well established with dairy products, involves passing eggs through a warm water bath, where salmonella and other harmful bacteria are reduced by 99.99 per cent from both the egg and the egg shell, without changing the nutrition or flavour or properties.
“Like all pasteurisation, it’s a matter of time and temperature. A bit like a water bath.
A simple way of describing it is it’s like you boil eggs in your saucepan at home on the stove but it’s just a very sophisticated saucepan.”