Egg eaters, beware. More than half a billion eggs have been pulled off of grocery store shelves across the country after a recall began on August 13. The tainted eggs are linked to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the number of related illnesses at 1,300, and believes that number could continue to grow.
The cause of the outbreak is not yet known, but many of the infected eggs have been linked to two farms in Iowa, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. The farms share suppliers of chicken and feed. Tainted eggs were distributed in several states, including California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.
What is Salmonella?
Salmonella, a harmful bacteria, is often carried by birds and reptiles. The bacteria can also be found in water, soil, raw meats and eggs. It can be on both the outside and inside of eggs that appear to be normal. If the eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, it can cause illness.
Eating food infected with salmonella can make people sick. It can even be deadly. The most common symptoms of salmonella infection are diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Babies and the elderly are most affected.
How To Stay Safe
The FDA oversees safety inspections of shell eggs. After the tainted egg outbreak, Margaret Hamburg, chief of the Food and Drug Administration, said the agency must do more to prevent such outbreaks, rather than contain them after they start. "We need better abilities and authorities to put in place these preventive controls and hold companies accountable," says Hamburg.
While the FDA works to insure safety nationally, there are important steps you can take to insure your own safety. Check your cartons to be sure the eggs in your refrigerator aren't affected by the recall. And always cook your eggs thoroughly before eating them, since high temperatures can kill harmful bacteria. Reject runny yolks at home and at restaurants. Go to here for a list of recalled egg brands, and to learn more.