There is a salmonella outbreak going on right now that everyone should know about, even though it has not yet hit Texas. This outbreak led to the recall and destruction of more than 206 million eggs last month. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), to date, at least 35 people have been hospitalized in nine states. The reason people in Texas should pay attention is that, while the outbreak started on the east coast, specifically Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, Florida, North and South Carolina, cases have now been identified in Colorado, as well.
The Source of the Outbreak
While no deaths have been reported to date, of the 35 victims who have been admitted to a hospital from those nine states, at least 11 of them were hospitalized for severe health problems. Last month, CDC and other health officials identified the source of the contaminated eggs as being from Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms, and their farm located in Hyde County, North Carolina. When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent inspectors to Rose Acre Farm, they found what they called “unacceptable rodent activity.” This included a live rodent in a manure pit, a second rodent running across a floor on an upper level and two dead rodents about 10 feet from the house, among other problems.
They repeated their inspections on March 27 and 28 and found similar ”unsanitary conditions and poor employee practices” in various areas of the farm, including the egg processing facility, which inspectors said created “an environment that allows for the harborage, proliferation and spread of filth and pathogens throughout the facility that could cause the contamination of egg processing equipment and eggs.” The FDA report on the inspections noted observations of ”at least 25 flying insects throughout the egg processing facility… landing on food, food contact surfaces, and food production equipment.”
The FDA had been able to narrow their search after they learned that all those who had become ill to date had all eaten eggs or egg dishes, and they were able to trace back the source of the eggs to Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County farm. That is when agency investigators inspected the farm and collected samples for testing. That happened on March 26, and that is when they discovered the presence of the same strain of Salmonella Braenderup that caused the illnesses.
When the FDA identified them as the source of the salmonella outbreak, the people at Rose Acre Farms were very apologetic. They came forward and took back 206,749,248 eggs, which had been distributed under many brand names, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, Sunshine Farms, Publix, and Sunups. For a full list of affected products, click here. According to the FDA, consumers should watch for eggs that come in packaging marked with plant number P-1065 or P-1359D and Julian date 048A or 049A with “Best By” dates of APR 02 and APR 03.
Consumers who have these eggs in their possession are urged to not eat them, no matter how strong they believe their stomachs are. They are encouraged to either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for either store credit or a refund. FDA officials are also warning the public in those states and others to be aware of Salmonella Braenderup bacteria, which can be a severe problem for many people. In fact, this strain can lead to cause fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea, even in otherwise healthy individuals. For others who may not be in great health, consumption of this strain of salmonella can cause severe and fatal infections to various people. This is especially the case for small children, the elderly and those with compromised immune symptoms.
According to some reports, the egg recall associated with this outbreak is the second-largest ever and the largest since a 2010 salmonella outbreak associated with two large farms led to the recall and destruction of more than 540 million eggs.
A Long and Unusual Outbreak
This particular outbreak has hung on for a while, with the first illness reported on Nov. 16, 2017. So far, the CDC says the age range of those afflicted with salmonella contamination have ranged in age from one to 90 years old. In all, the median age of 65. Even if you live in Texas, where no cases have been reported, it can’t hurt to check the fri where no cases have been reported, it can’t hurt to check the fridge and make sure your eggs aren’t a cause for concern for you and your family.
Salmonella is actually relatively common, resulting in about 1.2 million cases of illness every year, with the overwhelming majority of these cases caused by food consumption, according to the CDC. There are several types of bacteria in the salmonella family, with Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium being the most common in the U.S. That is why the FDA and CDC are worried about this outbreak. Salmonella Braenderup is much rarer. It has usually been associated with mangoes and tomatoes, but the level of rodent activity in the Hyde County facility was especially alarming because the bacteria can penetrate eggs through very tiny cracks in the shell. It can live on the outside of an egg, but it can also be found on the inside, in the white or even the yolk.