Half a Billion Eggs Recalled for Salmonella Contamination

WASHINGTON, DC, August 20, 2010 (ENS) – An outbreak of the bacterium Salmonella enteritidis that has sickened hundreds of people across the country has led to an urgent nationwide recall of eggs that now includes two Iowa farms.

The original recall announced August 13 and expanded Wednesday covers 380 million eggs produced by Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa. Today a second farm, Hillandale Farms of Iowa, said it will recall 170 million eggs after tests confirmed salmonella.

The more than half a billion eggs affected by the recalls are packaged under different brand names and distributed nationwide.

“Don’t eat recalled eggs,” warns the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The agency says consumers should throw away the recalled eggs or return the product to the store for a refund.

Eggs can appear normal and still carry Salmonella enteritidis. (Photo by Mr-Pete)

Salmonella enteritidis can be inside perfectly normal-appearing eggs, and if the eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacterium can cause illness.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms of salmonella poisoning such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and fever may appear within 12 hours of eating the eggs, or may take as long as 72 hours to show up. Because the symptoms are like flu symptoms some people may not know they are sick because of what they have eaten.

“Individuals who think they might have become ill from eating recalled eggs should consult their health care providers. If consumers are unsure about the source of their eggs, they are urged not to eat them and to discard them immediately,” the FDA says.

First issued August 13 and expanded on Wednesday, the recall of eggs in their shells, or “shell eggs,” is part of an ongoing intensive investigation by local, state, and federal officials into what caused the recent cases of salmonella.

The recall affects eggs shipped since May 16, 2010 to food wholesalers, distribution centers and food service companies in 17 states: California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Iowa.

Shell eggs under the August 13, 2010 recall are packaged under the brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps.

Shell eggs are packed in 6-egg, 12-egg, and 18-egg cartons, and loose eggs for institutional use and repackaging with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946.

Dates and codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton or printed on the case label. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P-1720 223.

Recalled shell eggs affected by the expanded recall issued August 18 are packaged under the brand names: Albertsons, Farm Fresh, James Farms, Glenview, Mountain Dairy, Ralphs, Boomsma, Lund, Kemps and Pacific Coast. Julian dates on these packages range from 136 to 229 and plant numbers are 1720 and 1942.

Eggs recalled today by Hillandale Farms are distributed under the brand names: Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, and Sunny Meadow. The only eggs affected by this recall have plant number P1860 with Julian dates ranging from 099 to 230, and plant number P1663 with Julian dates ranging from 137 to 230.

On August 13, Wright County Egg conducted a nationwide recall of shell eggs on three of its five farms. Further epidemiologic and traceback information led to Wright County Egg expanding its recall on August 18 to cover all five of its farms.

The FDA has activated its emergency operations command center with scientists, investigators, epidemiologists, and communication experts.

In addition, the FDA deployed an initial team of 10 investigators to Wright County Egg in Iowa to inspect the farms and determine the source of the contamination. More investigators are being deployed to help on-site, looking to find the source of the contamination.

Investigators are performing environmental assessments of farm conditions and practices including pest and rodent controls, biosecurity plans, environmental monitoring, sanitary controls, and feed sources.

The FDA is initiating effectiveness checks of the recall, conducting checks at retail stores, wholesalers and distributors to make sure the recalled shell eggs are being removed from the market.

“Unlike eggborne salmonellosis of past decades, the current epidemic is due to intact and disinfected grade A eggs,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency. “Salmonella enteritidis silently infects the ovaries of healthy appearing hens and contaminates the eggs before the shells are formed.”

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2010. All rights reserved.