Skip to main content
Hero Image
Eggs being rotated in a process chamber while radio frequency energy is pulsed into them to kill Salmonella.

Eggs being rotated in a process chamber while radio frequency energy is pulsed into them to kill Salmonella.

Taking Pasteurized Shell Eggs to a New Level

ARS chemical Engineer David Geveke measures new radio frequency (RF) equipment that he and his colleagues developed to kill Salmonella and E. coli in fresh eggs.
ARS chemical engineer David Geveke (retired) and colleagues developed radio frequency equipment to kill Salmonella in fresh eggs. (Photo by Joseph Sites, D3773-1)

ARS scientists at the Food Safety and Intervention Technologies Laboratory in Wyndmoor, PA, have hatched a way to produce safer eggs without jeopardizing quality. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1.2 million Americans are sickened with Salmonella each year. Working with industry partners, the researchers are improving upon ARS’s previously patented radio frequency pasteurization (RFP) process to kill Salmonella bacteria in shell eggs. RFP involves shooting radio frequencies of about the same power as a microwave oven into the egg while the egg spins under a stream of water to prevent it from overheating. In essence, RFP pokes holes in the membranes of bacteria inside the egg.

The team has moved beyond a small-scale prototype that required manual egg spinning under ionized water and successfully tested a larger scale RFP unit that automatically turns the eggs and uses tap water, thus paving the way for a commercial-scale unit. The modifications will help prevent a significant source of foodborne illness while saving $10,000 to $100,000 per RFP unit, making it more economical to pasteurize shell eggs.


Explore Other Discoveries

A Treatment for Peanut Allergy

A team of researchers, including ARS scientists, is on the cusp of releasing the world's first treatment for peanut allergy.

Walking to Better Health

People in their 70s and 80s can improve their mobility and function by walking 30 minutes a day.

A Quick Way To Spot Zika in Mosquitoes

ARS scientists have developed a new test to quickly detect Zika virus in mosquitos.

Science Shows Less Can Equal More

Raising beef cattle without antibiotics may not reduce levels of antimicrobial resistance.