The nationwide Salmonella outbreak associated with the recall of 380 million eggs from a single Iowa producer got bigger yesterday.
And one of the nation’s top food safety advocates predicted the outbreak “will likely grow over the coming weeks.”
In a media conference call, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta disclosed that between May and June about 1,300 people were infected with the acute bacterial infection known as Salmonellosis from the bad eggs.
Some 1,953 people were infected with the strain of Salmonella involved in the outbreak, and CDC’s Christopher Braden said the normal number for that period would be around 700. CDC attributes the additional illnesses to the outbreak.
Sherri McGarry of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, speaking at the same media conference, said the Wright County Egg recall is now one of the largest shell egg recalls in history.
The Aug. 13 recall by the Iowa producer was expanded five days later to the current 380 million eggs that were distributed in 17 states.
Eggs under the August 13, 2010 recall by Wright County Egg are packaged under the following brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, and Kemps. Eggs are packed in varying sizes of cartons (6-egg cartons, dozen egg cartons, 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.
Eggs affected by the expanded recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and foodservice companies in California, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Oklahoma. These companies distribute nationwide.
Eggs recalled under the expanded recall were packaged under the following brand names: Albertsons, Farm Fresh, James Farms, Glenview, Mountain Dairy, Ralphs, Boomsma, Lund, Kemps and Pacific Coast. Eggs are packed in varying sizes of cartons (6-egg cartons, dozen egg cartons, 18-egg cartons, and loose eggs for institutional use and repackaging) with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 229 and plant numbers 1720 and 1942.
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.
In addition, yesterday Country Eggs, Inc. of Los Angeles, CA, recalled eggs that were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers, and foodservice companies in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Eggs were packaged under the Country Eggs, Inc brand name in 15 dozen bulk pack with the identifying plant code of P 1946 and P 1026. Julian code dates are 216-221. Dates and codes can be found on the box label.
The California Department of Public Health released a list of recalled egg products sold in the state yesterday, as well.
FDA officials said new egg safety rules that took effect July 9 for producers with more than 50,000 hens should help reduce the risk of such outbreaks in the future. Smaller producers have two more years to comply.
Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, called it “ironic” that the egg recall is unfolding just over a month after the new egg regulations went into effect.
DeWaal said “the outbreak demonstrates the need for a food safety cop-on-the-beat.” She noted FDA’s statement that it was not allowed to inspect the Wright facility until the new egg regulations took effect.
“FDA needs a strong inspection force with the tools to mandate recalls, impose civil and criminal penalties, and require testing at farm and production facilities,” she said.
Cornell University’s Patrick McDonough, professor of microbiology, says hens with infected ovaries do not show any clinical signs. “When the shell is laid down, it actually covers the yolk, the albumen, and the infection,” he says.
McDonough says if everything worked like it is supposed to, “we would not have Salmonella enteritidis outbreaks.”