Further expanding the nation's options for safe foods, egg safety leader National Pasteurized Eggs (NPE) today announced that it is now producing the industry's first cage-free pasteurized shell egg to serve the foodservice industry and consumers throughout the United States.

TexasTechUniversity, located in Lubbock, Texas, is serving the cage-free pasteurized shell eggs that are free from salmonella to its faculty, guests and 28,000 students in its dining halls and other foodservice outlets. NPE's award-winning pasteurized shell eggs are processed using a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved patented pasteurization process recognized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to inactivate the Salmonella and avian influenza virus. The FDA estimates 2.3 million eggs contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis were sold last year.

"While eggs are a great, nutritionally dense product that is an essential item for all meals, we believe pasteurizing eggs is simply the best way to keep all Americans safe from the dangerous effects of salmonella poisoning," said Greg West, president of NPE. "Texas Tech is leading the foodservice industry by ensuring the eggs they bring into their facilities are perfectly safe and avoid sickening even a single person."

West said Texas Tech's move to pasteurized, cage-free shell eggs comes at a time when the pasteurized egg category is experiencing phenomenal growth, as more and more foodservice operators look to reduce the risk of food poisoning and avoid large scale salmonella illnesses or outbreaks.

According to the USDA, more than 22 billion pasteurized eggs are consumed annually, accounting for nearly a third of the egg industry's volume.

West added that NPE will begin offering cage-free, salmonella-free pasteurized eggs for home use in early October via grocers and specialty food retailers.