Shell Egg Surveillance

The Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA) , passed by Congress in 1970, sets forth requirements to ensure that eggs and egg products are wholesome, otherwise not adulterated, and properly labeled and packaged to protect the health and welfare of consumers of these products.

The EPIA provides for inspections of shell egg handlers to control the disposition of restricted eggs. It also mandates that shell eggs sold to consumers contain no more restricted eggs than permitted in U.S. Consumer Grade B and that restricted eggs be disposed of properly.

Most eggs are bought and sold as shell eggs —meaning the eggs are still in the shell. Restricted eggs are defined as eggs with cracks or checks in the shell, dirty eggs, incubator rejects, and inedible, leaker, or loss eggs. Cracked and dirty eggs may be shipped to an official egg products plant for processing and pasteurization. Otherwise, restricted eggs must be either destroyed or diverted for use in products other than human food. The U.S. standards for shell eggs limit the number of restricted eggs that are permitted in consumer markets. These procedures are covered by the Shell Egg Surveillance (SES) Program monitored by AMS.

Complying with the Shell Egg Surveillance Program

Shell egg handlers include firms with over 3,000 layers that grade and pack their own eggs, firms that grade and pack eggs from production sources other than their own (known as a grading station), and firms that are hatcheries or hard cooked eggs. They are required to register with USDA by completing and submitting an LP-155: Shell Egg Handlers Registration Form (pdf).

At least 4 times each year, a State or Federal SES inspector visits each registrant to verify that shell eggs packed for consumer use are in compliance, that restricted eggs are being disposed of properly, and that adequate records are being maintained. Hatcheries are visited at least once annually for the same purposes.

Section 4 – Shell Egg Surveillance Inspection Instructions (pdf)

Importing Eggs

The EPIA also requires eggs imported into the United States be inspected at the point of entry to determine that they meet the same restricted egg tolerances established for domestic producers. Those importing shell eggs can arrange for this inspection by completing and electronically submitting an LP-222 Import Request (Shell Eggs) (pdf) to There is no charge to the importer for this inspection.

Additional information can be found on the Import/Export Certificates website.


For more information or assistance in completing the form and in arranging for an inspection, contact:

National Supervisor, Shell Eggs
Telephone: (770) 519-9572

Shell Egg Surveillance Biosecurity

Information on Biosecurity Policies developed for the program that oversees the Shell Egg Surveillance Inspections are available on the Biosecurity website.