Journey from Farm to Plate – Step 5

How are eggs washed and sanitized?

Many people wonder what happens to their eggs after leaving the hen house. The United States is the one of the only countries in the world that washes their eggs. The process is an important and precise one.

Once the eggs enter the processing plant they roll onto a roller conveyor and enter the stainless steel egg washer. They roll along while brushes and hot water scrub them clean of any dirt or manure present. There are strict guidelines for the quality of water, temperatures and soap. All are crucial in maintaining a food safe environment. USDA requires the eggs to be washed at a minimum of 90 degrees. The wash water must also be 20 degrees warmer than the interior egg temperature and changed every four hours.  Ideal wash water temperature is 102 to 120 degrees.  JS West washes at a temperature of 110 degrees.  The washer section is designed with two washers and a rinse section on the second washer. Two sections with spray nozzles designed to loosen manure from the eggs.  A minimum pH level of 10.5 shall be maintained at all times while processing eggs. The pH meter is monitored by Quality Control, calibrated and documented on a monthly basis. pH strips will be kept on hand as a back-up.

Final Rinse

This is the final stage of egg washing and where the highest water temperature is used.  The temperature for the final rinse is approximately 120 to 135 degrees.


Chlorine solution is used in the final rinse in order to sanitize the eggs.  Its purpose is to kill any bacteria that might be associated with the shell. The chlorine shall be maintained between 100ppm and 200ppm.

The washer is cleaned daily at the end of each shift and inspected by the USDA the next morning to ensure cleanliness.

All these steps are taken to make sure you and your family can feel confident in the safety and quality of the eggs you love.

Written by Jill Benson

Jill Benson, Senior Vice President of J. S. West & Companies, represents 4th generation in the family owned and operated diversified set of businesses based out of Modesto, California. Among their interests, J. S. West has three farms with 1.8 million laying hens, feed mill, feed store, hardware store and liquid propane sales and distribution in more than 25 counties in Northern California. Jill is involved in every aspect of the family business. She’s spent much of her career in the egg farming end of the business, from operations to processing to sales & marketing. Jill is active in the company’s real estate interests, propane, safety and communications.

Jill is an active member of the United Egg Producers (UEP), of Pacific Egg & Poultry Association (PEPA) and past President and American Egg Board (AEB), Cal Poly Animal Science Advisory Council, California FFA Foundation Board and Finance Committee at Del Rio Country Club. Jill is a dedicated volunteer, often lending her omelet skills to raise money for various charitable organizations.

Jill is an avid skier, world traveler, accomplished cook and dog lover. She is married to Ken Woodward and they share their time between Modesto and Santa Cruz.

Jill Benson holds a Bachelor of Science Degree, graduating with Honors and Distinction from San Diego State University.