200 million eggs were recalled this past week, due to salmonella contamination. The eggs were found in nine states and everywhere from retail supermarkets to restaurants.
Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, Indiana is voluntarily recalling 206,749,248 eggs due to concerns that they have been contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals infected with Salmonella Braenderup can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella Braenderup can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.
The eggs were distributed from the farm in Hyde County, North Carolina and reached consumers in the following states: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia through retail stores and restaurants via direct delivery. The eggs were sold under the brand names Country Daybreak; Crystal Farms; Coburn Farms; Sunshine Farms; Glenview; Great Value; as well as at Walmart and Food Lion stores.
How did we get here? Let’s go back to 2010 when the poorly named Quality Egg Co. sold the eggs responsible for a 2010 salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands of people and led to an unprecedented recall of 550 million eggs.
Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter DeCoster of Quality Egg, were charged with introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, a misdemeanor. A charging document filed in federal court in Iowa alleges the pair and their company sold shell eggs tainted with the strain of salmonellaa blamed in the monthslong outbreak of 2010.
Their company, Quality Egg LLC, a network of chicken and egg-laying farms in rural northern Iowa, introduced misbranded food into interstate commerce, a felony. Quality Egg sold products from 2006 to 2010 with labeling that “made the eggs appear to be not as old as they actually were.” according to court documents. The company was also charged with bribing a public official, a felony, for an alleged 2010 payment to influence a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to approve shell eggs that had been held back for failing to meet federal standards.
One can only hope that this is not the case in the Rose Acre Farm case and no illegal activity was happening.
So how does salmonella happen in eggs? Poultry may carry bacteria such as salmonella that can contaminate the inside of eggs before the shells are formed. Eggs can also become contaminated with the droppings of poultry. The key for farmers is to collect every day, from clean healthy coops and happy chickens. Consumers should cook eggs thoroughly and try to buy locally from coops they have seen with their own eyes. With the recent rollbacks on the organic standards by the USDA it will become impossible for consumers to know if chickens from huge factory farms are being kept in clean conditions.