BUCKEYE, AZ - The state's largest egg producer is experiencing an increased demand for product after millions of eggs from Iowa-based Wright County Eggs are being recalled.
As of Friday morning, 380 million eggs have been recalled because of suspected salmonella contamination.
None have come from Hickman's Family Farms.
Managers at the farm near Buckeye say their safety protocols go beyond what most companies offer.
"We fully vaccinate our chickens against salmonella," said Clint Hickman.
While vaccines can reduce the risk of contamination, salmonella is abundant in the environment. Hickman says it's up to the consumer to properly handle and cook their eggs.
"We can't control how the consumer handles their eggs," Hickman explained, "but we can do our part to reduce the risk."
That process begins on the farm, where vehicle tires are sprayed with disinfectant before entering the property.
Before entering the hen houses workers and visitors put on shoe covers, white overcoats and hair nets. They must step in bins of disinfectant prior to walking into the building.
"This is how we keep contaminants and pathogens away from the chickens," Hickman said.
Once the hens lay their eggs, the white ovals roll down a conveyer belt into a processing room.
A soap solution is sprayed on the eggs to clean them while massive blow driers remove the moisture before the line continues.
After the initial rinse, electronic scanners take pictured of the eggs, checking them for imperfections.
Any bad eggs are discarded.
The good eggs continue down the line where they are bathed in ultra violet light.
The radiation kills bacteria and viruses on the shell.
According to Hickman, his company is the only one in the country using ultra violet disinfection. Most companies only use rinsing agents to clean eggs.
Eggs are then packed in sterilized containers and shipped to stores in refrigerated trucks.
The entire process is "no touch," meaning the eggs are free of contamination from human hands.
An inspector from the US Department of Agriculture is on hand to physically inspect samples of eggs for quality.
Because of the safety protocols, Hickman says distributors from as far away as Reno, Nevada are asking for eggs.
"I have to take care of my regular clients first," Hickman said, "then we can ship out leftovers."
Because of the prevalence of salmonella and other contaminants, contamination-free eggs cannot be guaranteed.
Experts say cooking eggs completely will kill bacteria and viruses, keeping you from getting sick.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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