From Our 2010 Archives
Salmonella Outbreaks Spur Nationwide Egg Recall
Outbreak Traced to Supplier for Major Groceries, Restaurants
Daniel J. DeNoon
Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD
Aug. 17, 2010 -- Eggs are behind a nationwide salmonella outbreak that caused hundreds of illnesses each week in June and July.
The nationwide egg recall involves more than a dozen major brands that got eggs from Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa.
CDC and state investigators in California, Colorado, and Minnesota found clusters of salmonella food poisoning among people who ate eggs at the same restaurants. Those restaurants got eggs that came from Wright County Egg.
Investigations continue in Arizona, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. According to a CDC spokeswoman, the outbreak is "pretty much nationwide."
Meanwhile, the FDA is conducting a thorough investigation of the Iowa firm to which the contaminated eggs were traced. The company says it already has sent all its remaining eggs to a breaker, where they will be pasteurized to kill any salmonella.
Shell eggs included in the recall were shipped since May to food wholesalers, distribution centers, and food service companies in eight states, from which they were distributed nationwide.
The brand names included in the recall are Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms, and Kemps. Recalled eggs are in six, dozen, and 18-egg cartons.
Stamped on the end of the recalled egg cartons are Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413, and 1946. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P-1946 223. Recalled eggs may be returned to the store for a full refund.
The salmonella strain causing the outbreak is Salmonella Enteritidis, the most common salmonella strain. Usually the CDC gets about 50 reports a week of Salmonella Enteritidis food poisoning; beginning in May there was a fourfold increase in salmonella reports. Each week in late June and early July the CDC received some 200 salmonella samples isolated from patients, all with the same DNA fingerprint.
Most people recover without antibiotic treatment, but severe cases can be fatal. People prone to severe illness -- particularly severe diarrhea -- include the elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems, including people on immune suppressive therapy such as cancer chemotherapy.
How to Avoid Food Poisoning From Eggs
If you like your eggs prepared over easy, you may want to change your egg-eating habits. Here's the CDC's advice on how to avoid food poisoning from eggs:
SOURCES: News release, CDC.
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