A newly proposed bill would require eggs from turkeys, ducks and pheasants to adhere to the state’s egg laws, expanding it from just chickens.
The bill, which was introduced in the General Assembly this week, seeks to broaden the scope of Maryland’s egg law to include eggs from any domesticated bird, not just domesticated chickens.
Other domesticated birds could include turkeys, ducks or pheasants.
Other proposed changes to the law include requiring that shell eggs produced by poultry other than domesticated chickens be sold by net quantity, such as by the dozen, rather than by weight. It also authorizes the secretary of agriculture to conduct examinations, tests and sampling for compliance and specifies what makes an egg spoiled.
The secretary of agriculture would also maintain and gain the power to enter any building, market, store, warehouse, production facility, food service facility, packing facility or any other place where shell eggs are produced, distributed, packed, donated, sold, offered or put out for sale.
There, they can sample, test or examine any egg, layer house, pen, cooler, packing facility, washing facility or “any other place or item to determine whether the environment of the facility where shell eggs are produced, packed, or held is in compliance,” according to the bill.
The bill also clarified that an egg is adulterated or spoiled if it is contaminated by anything that can produce disease, poisonous or harmful substances, or any conditions “likely to cause contamination that may render the shell eggs injurious to human health.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1,373 farms in Frederick County in 2017 had a total of 1,130 broiler and other meat-type chickens in inventory. They also had a total of 71,018 layers, which are chickens that lay eggs.
Broiler chickens are chickens raised for meat.
The total market value of poultry and eggs sold in 2017 was $3.142 million.
Kelly Nichols, agricultural science agent at the University of Maryland Extension’s Frederick office, said that several farmers in the county do have chickens and sell eggs, and that she would estimate the number of farmers who have eggs from other domesticated birds would be much lower than those who have chicken eggs.
Based on that assumption, Nichols said that while the number of people the bill would affect would be smaller, those people may need to fill out more paperwork and make sure they’re current with any registration.
“The whole reason for the Maryland egg law is to ensure that people who are selling eggs are selling a quality product and it’s safe for public consumption,” she said.
The hearing for the bill is set for Jan. 16 at 2:30 p.m. before the Maryland Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.