August 19, 2010
Hundreds of salmonella infection cases have prompted a nationwide recall of eggs and reminded us of some basic food safety rules.
After a four-fold increase in cases of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) infections since May 2010, a joint investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and state public health and agriculture officials has linked the illnesses to eggs produced at the Wright County Egg, in Galt, IA.
In response, Wright County Egg has issued a nationwide voluntary recall of 380 million eggs shipped since May 19, 2010 to food wholesalers, distribution centers and foodservice companies in California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. These companies distribute eggs nationwide under a variety of brands.
Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis or arthritis.
Click here for a list of all brands of eggs affected by the recall. Consumers can identify the recalled eggs by the date and code stamped on the carton. Consumers who believe they may have purchased these shell eggs should not eat them but should return them to the store where purchased for a full refund.
According to an article in USA Today, Wright County Egg is part of the DeCoster family agribusiness operations, which has a long history of environmental, immigration and labor violations.
While 380 million eggs seems a huge number, it represents less than 1 percent of all eggs produced in the United States.
To reduce the potential for contracting Salmonella from eggs, the FDA recommends:
- Do not eat recalled eggs or products containing recalled eggs. Recalled eggs might still be in grocery stores, restaurants and consumers’ homes. Consumers who have recalled eggs should discard them or return them to their retailer for a refund. Individuals who think they might have become ill from eating recalled eggs should consult their health care providers.
- Keep shell eggs refrigerated at ≤45˚ F (≤7˚ C) at all times.
- Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
- Wash hands, cooking utensils and food preparation surfaces with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.
- People preparing egg should cook them until both the white and the yolk are firm
- Eat eggs promptly after cooking.
- Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Refrigerate unused or leftover egg- containing foods promptly.
- Avoid eating raw eggs.
- Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing) that calls for raw eggs.
- Young children, elderly persons and those with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness should especially avoid the consumption of raw or undercooked eggs.
Find out more about safe handling and usage of egg products at http://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/types/eggs/index.html