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Laser-etching promotes egg safety

30 Sep 2005

US consumers can now tell exactly how fresh the eggs in their refrigerator are thanks to tamper-proof expiry dates.

Eggs that are laser-etched with an expiry date and a code that traces the egg back to where it was packaged are now available in the US. Developed by US firm EggFusion, the laser system etches a permanent, easy-to-read and tamper-proof mark on the eggshell which allows consumers to see when the egg should be used by.

EggFusion uses a pulsed sealed carbon-dioxide laser to etch the eggshells. According to Roger Tye, EggFusion's VP of marketing and communications, the laser removes between 5 to 8% of the eggshell and the structural integrity of the shell in maintained. "The laser does not heat the egg so we are not cooking the inside in the process," he added.

The etching kit is integrated into the existing machinery at a packing facility. "Our equipment is placed right before the packing stage," explained Tye. "The etching happens as the egg is moving so it doesn't slow the packing process down at all."

In addition to the physical laser system, EggFusion also offers consumers the opportunity to type the traceability code into a database on its website. The code brings up a list of information such as where the egg was packed.

"This technology is bringing added confidence to consumers because they can now tell exactly how fresh their egg is," Tye told Optics.org. "We are trying to promote freshness and etching the eggs with a permanent mark has a lot of value for the consumer."

EggFusion's technology has now been adopted by fellow US firm Born Free Eggs, which is headed by David Radlo. "Every Born Free egg speaks for itself with freshness dating, traceability coding and identification which guarantees customers the finest egg safety protocol on the market today," said Radlo.

Founded in 2001, EggFusion is trying to promote its idea to other egg producers. "We are actively pursuing further placements," said Tye. "We really see this as a win-win because consumers get added benefits and the producer can feel better about their eggs."

Author
Jacqueline Hewett is technology editor on Optics.org and Opto & Laser Europe magazine.

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