March 31, 2023
Norway seeks exclusion from shelf-life egg labeling rules
Norway is hoping for an exemption to European rules on shelf-life labeling of eggs, partly due to its good salmonella record.
In December 2022, an EU regulation entered into force that extended the period eggs can be sold to the consumer to 28 days after laying by hens. However, another change moved a provision on the best-before date for table eggs to hygiene regulations, which are part of the EEA agreement. Norway is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) but is not an EU member state. As the rule didn't previously cover Norway, the country uses an egg shelf life of 35 days after laying.
Two ministries in Norway believe the 28-day maximum shelf life rule is justified for public health reasons in many EU member states due to the occurrence of salmonella in eggs. However, in Norway, there is a very low incidence of salmonella in eggs.
Ingvild Kjerkol, Minister of Health and Care, and Sandra Borch, Minister of Agriculture and Food, previously sent a letter to Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, in mid-2022 expressing concerns about the potential changes.
Before the amendments were adopted, they were discussed multiple times in an expert group at the EU Commission, where the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet) recorded the country's position on several occasions, without success. The EU side sought the same regulations to support the internal market and wanted to limit national exemptions.
The ministries have now started work on requesting risk-based flexibility regarding the shelf-life labeling of eggs when implementing the regulation.
"It is absolutely necessary for us to speak with the EU, because such a change in the regulations will have consequences for Norwegian egg production as we know it today, and bring challenges for the industry," said Borch.
Norway has a national requirement for a cold chain for eggs. They should be kept at no more than 12 degrees C (53.6 degrees F) from the time of laying until they reach the public. A decentralised structure of the industry means small flocks are spread throughout the country.
Eggs are normally collected once a week due to the large distances, meaning they could lose seven days of shelf life before reaching the packing facility under the EU plans. Collecting eggs several times a week, as they do in other European countries, means higher costs and increased transport times, said the Norwegian Independent Meat and Poultry Association.
- Food Safety News