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2,000 Salmonella Cases Possibly Linked to Recalled Eggs

Aug 20, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Salmonella outbreak linked to recalled eggs may involve as many as 2,000 people. What’s more, federal officials expect that number to rise. This outbreak, which health officials believe started in May, is already the largest of its type related to eggs in years.

Last week, Wright County Egg of Iowa recalled 228 million eggs after a traceback investigation by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) linked some illnesses to the firm’s eggs. Yesterday, we reported that the recall had been expanded, and it now involves more than 300 million eggs, making it one of the largest in recent history.

In response to the outbreak, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has activated its emergency operations command center. An initial team of 10 FDA investigators has been sent to Wright County Egg into 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 agency said.

The FDA is also 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,

Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), 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 (infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Through July 17, the CDC has received some 2,000 reports of illness due to Salmonella Enteritidis. That’s triple the number of cases usually seen in late summer. The CDC is warning that illnesses that occurred since July 17 may not have been reported yet.

As a reminder, the 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 cartons, 12-egg cartons, 18-egg cartons, and loose eggs with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946.

Recalled shell eggs affected by the expanded recall are packaged under the 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, 12-egg, and18-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.

The FDA is reminding consumers not to eat the recalled eggs, and to 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. If consumers are unsure about the source of their eggs, they are urged not to eat them and to discard them immediately.

The CDC is also reminding the public to:

• Keep 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.

• Eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm and eaten 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.

• Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided, especially by young children, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness.

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