Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bad Eggs in Minnesota, California

"228 Million Eggs Recalled Following Salmonella Outbreak"
The Associated Press, via FOXNews (August 18, 2010)

" An Iowa egg producer is recalling 228 million eggs after being linked to an outbreak of salmonella poisoning.

"The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said eggs from Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa, were linked to several illnesses in Colorado, California and Minnesota. The CDC said about 200 cases of the strain of salmonella linked to the eggs were reported weekly during June and July, four times the normal number of such occurrences.

"State health officials say tainted eggs have sickened at least 266 Californians and seven in Minnesota...."

Well, here we go again. Another food safety alert.

Eggs, this time.

Brands which distributed the bad eggs (along with quite a few eggs that were okay) were:
  • Lucerne
  • Albertson
  • Mountain Dairy
  • Ralph's
  • Boomsma's
  • Sunshine
  • Hillandale
  • Trafficanda
  • Farm Fresh
  • Shoreland
  • Lund
  • Dutch Farms
  • Kemps
Cooking, frying, or boiling (thoroughly, in all cases) the infected eggs kills the salmonella: so this is more of a problem for guys who like to eat raw eggs (with or without the shells), or prefer Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing when they dine.

Of course, there's the matter of what to do with spilled raw egg. I've been known to break an egg over the frying pan - and spatter a little on the stove top.

Salmonella and Eggs: What the CDC Says

"Investigation Announcement: Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Associated with Shell Eggs"
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (August 16, 2010)

"CDC is collaborating with public health officials in many states, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to investigate a nationwide increase of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) infections with an indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern JEGXX01.0004. This is the most common PFGE pattern for SE in the PulseNet database. Investigators are using DNA analysis of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.

"Investigation of the Outbreak

"In May 2010, CDC identified a nationwide increase in the number of Salmonella Enteritidis isolates with PFGE pattern JEGXX01.0004 uploaded to PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections. The increase represents approximately a four-fold increase over the expected number of reported isolates of this particular PFGE pattern. Approximately 200 isolates were uploaded to PulseNet on a weekly basis during late June and early July compared to an expected ~50 uploads a week on average during this same period in the previous 5 years. Many states have reported increases of this pattern since May...."

"Advice to Consumers
  • "Don’t eat recalled eggs or products containing recalled eggs. Recalled eggs might still be in grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers' homes. Consumers who have recalled eggs should 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.
  • 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...."
Between this, and news earlier this month about Fruit Smoothies, a person could get the idea that germs lurk on every grocery shelf, just waiting to pounce on unsuspecting shoppers.

I'm not going to buy a hazmat suit for going to the grocery.

My take on this situation is that America has a huge food distribution system, and one that's monitored. Once in a while something gets into the system that shouldn't be there.

And these days outfits like the CDC don't seem so afraid that 'the masses' will panic if we're told about things like bad eggs. This isn't the 'good old days:' and I can't say that I miss them all that much.

I live in central Minnesota, so we might have had some of those salmonella-laced eggs in our refrigerator. We don't buy any of those brands: but we'll be a bit more careful about cleanup when we fix food with eggs, anyway.

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