Frequently Asked Questions
Egg Standards of Australia (ESA) is a voluntary egg industry quality assurance program for rearing and layer farms.
ESA replaces the current industry QA scheme, Egg Corp Assured (ECA), providing greater clarity and a more robust set of compliance standards that have been independently reviewed against current Australian customer and regulatory requirements.
ESA has been developed to provide a compliance framework for egg farmers in meeting the needs of regulators, retailers, farmers and egg buyers in areas including hen welfare, egg quality, biosecurity, food safety, work health and safety and environmental management.
ESA has been developed to provide for a much more detailed and objective standard than ECA. ECA compliance was based on a customised HACCP plan and supporting documentation, whilst in contrast ESA has been developed as a prescriptive Code of Practice. Worldwide prescriptive standards have become the norm, providing clear objective guidance for compliance.
The prescriptive format is not only easier for egg farmers to understand, implement and comply with, it also ensures a more practical, objective and uniform approach at audit.
ESA provides a mechanism for egg farmers to demonstrate the practices in place on farm to ensure production of a safe, quality, sustainable product. This independent verification can be useful in engaging with customers and in some instances, is a mandatory requirement for supply.
After extensive consultation, ESA has been finalised. It is envisaged that a review of ESA will be undertaken in mid-2018 following the release of the Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry and in consideration of feedback from program participants.
Egg farmers will have access to ESA resources from early April 2017. Egg farmers currently participating in the ECA program have until 31st December to transition to the new standard, in the transition period an egg farmer can nominate to be audited to either ECA or ESA. All audits from 1st January 2018 will be to ESA.
There is no cost for an egg farm to join the ESA program and access ESA resources. Once an egg farmer has implemented ESA and seeks certification, an annual $55.00 certification fee will be charged for each site. Egg farmers also need to meet the actual cost of the annual compliance audit for each site. Audit costs range from around $1,000 up to about $2,300 depending on the size and complexity of the farming operation and thus time taken to audit.
Unannounced audits may be conducted under ESA, where a formal complaint has been made and AECL considers an audit is justified in order to maintain the integrity of the program. Under such circumstances, AECL will meet the full cost of the audit cost.
Yes, ESA participating egg farmers have a choice of four Certification Bodies who can conduct their ESA audit. All have a network of suitably qualified and experienced auditors able to conduct audits on egg farms. The choice of certification body should be by the egg farmer in consideration of cost and availability.
ESA requires that participating egg farmers are audited annually to maintain their certification. In addition, unannounced audits may be conducted at no cost to the farm in response to complaints received from an outside party.
No. ESA is a voluntary quality assurance program available to all egg farmers in Australia. Egg farmers become ESA certified by joining ESA, implementing the requirements of ESA on farm and demonstrating compliance with those requirements through an independent third party certification audit.
Information on ESA available support and resources is available from both AECL and SSS. As AECL does not have the resources to provide training and implementation support for each egg farm so egg farmer may need to consider engaging private consultants to ensure they are able to comply with ESA.
ESA certification is granted to a participating egg farmers on the successful completion of an audit. ESA certificates are issued electronically (and in hard copy on request), the certificate clearly describes both the scope (cage, barn, free range) and the level of certification.
To protect the integrity of the program, egg famers must not refer to being ‘ESA certified’ without reference to the level of certification. For example, Farm A is ESA Level 1 certified and Farm B is ESA Level 3 certified.
If you have a query relating to the details on the ESA certificate issued for your business following successful completion of an ESA audit, please contact your Certification Body who will be able to assist and update your certificate if required.
At this time there are no plans to have ESA certification displayed on pack as the program is not being marketed to consumers.
The existing ECA Grading and Packing Standard remains current, an audit to this standard can be organised in conjunction with an ESA farm audit.
Please contact the Scheme Support Services office.