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Eggs Source of Nationwide Salmonella Outbreak

egg-salmonella-featured.jpgThe Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) said Monday that seven Salmonella Enteritidis cases it has been investigating were linked to a multistate egg recall announced over the weekend, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted hundreds more since May that are likely also linked to the consumption of contaminated recalled eggs.

That recall, by Iowa’s Wright County Egg, which is located in Galt, was for a long list of brands, including Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, and Kemps. 

Wright distributed those egg brands to food wholesalers, distribution centers, and food service companies in California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.  These companies then distributed nationwide.

In an announcement yesterday, the CDC stated that it had seen a four-fold increase in the number of Salmonella Enteritidis infections with the same pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern, or genetic fingerprint, reported by states through PulseNet, the national network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by the agency, since May.

According to the CDC, “Approximately 200 isolates were uploaded to PulseNet on a weekly basis during late June and early July compared to an expected ~50 uploads a week on average during this same period in the previous 5 years.”

MDH said the Salmonella Enteriditis cases were identified in two restaurant outbreaks in May and July, in which eggs were identified as the likely source. Eggs were traced back by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to Wright County Egg. 

Restaurant clusters with the same strain have been identified in Colorado and California, according to the CDC.

It is estimated that for every confirmed case of Salmonella, there are approximately 38 unconfirmed cases. Salmonella Enteriditis is one of the most common strains of Salmonella circulating, and is often associated with eggs

The eggs affected by the Wright County Egg recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers, and foodservice companies in California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. These companies distribute nationwide. 

The recalled eggs are packed in varying sizes of cartons (6-egg cartons, dozen egg cartons, 18-egg cartons) 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. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P-1946 223. 

To prevent illness, Kirk Smith with the Minnesota Department of Health said it’s important for consumers to cook eggs thoroughly before eating to destroy any Salmonella or other bacteria. Consumers who believe they may have purchased these shell eggs should not eat them but should return them to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. 

Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in dishes where the eggs may not be cooked thoroughly, such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing, Smith said. 

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

Persons infected with Salmonella often experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with Salmonella should contact their health care provider. 

© Food Safety News
  • hhamil

    Because of your clear, concise summary of what happpend, Mr. Flynn, once again, we are able to see clear distinctions in what is needed to regulate food in the global industrial food system and that which is in local food systems.
    In the global industrial food system,
    1) Cases must be linked together through a complex, sophisticated process into outbreaks;
    2) The process is much slower so there’s a high probability of the vast majority of the contaminated food having been already eaten;
    3) Outbreaks are much larger and more difficult to contain;
    4) Traceback is more difficult;
    5) The outbreak and its impact are much larger; and,
    6) The cost of regulation is much higher.
    And I have no doubt my analysis is incomplete. I invite others to add to it.

  • Elizabeth N. Ball

    I have some Ralphs brand eggs. If I cook them thoroughly, the salmonella is destroyed, right? Or do I need to take them back to the store?

  • Harry Hamil

    Because of your clear, concise summary of what happpend, Mr. Flynn, once again, we are able to see clear distinctions in what is needed to regulate food in the global industrial food system and that which is in local food systems.
    In the global industrial food system,
    1) Cases must be linked together through a complex, sophisticated process into outbreaks;
    2) The process is much slower so there’s a high probability of the vast majority of the contaminated food having been already eaten;
    3) Outbreaks are much larger and more difficult to contain;
    4) Traceback is more difficult;
    5) The outbreak and its impact are much larger; and,
    6) The cost of regulation is much higher.
    And I have no doubt my analysis is incomplete. I invite others to add to it.