Salmonella outbreak sparks massive egg recall

national outbreak of salmonella in eggs has sickened hundreds of people since
May and appears to be ongoing, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention say. The outbreak has been tracked to in-shell eggs from Wright
County Egg in Galt, Iowa, which has launched a recall.

Officials estimate the total number
of eggs recalled at 228 million.

Eggs from the company were sold
under multiple brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s,
Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and
Kemps. They were distributed nationwide. The recall was launched 13 August.

The recall covers eggs in their
shells packed between 16 May and 13 August. They come in cartons ranging from
six to 18 eggs and are marked with plant numbers P-1026, P-1413 and P-1946. The
eggs should be returned for a refund and not consumed.

The type of salmonella causing the
outbreak, salmonella enteritidis, is the most common form. The normal level of
laboratory-confirmed cases nationally for this specific type is about 50 cases
per week. When that jumped to 200 cases a week in June, public health workers
realised they had a problem, says Casey Barton Behravesh, a veterinary
epidemiologist with the CDC. Many states had reported increases since May.

Completely cooking eggs reduces the
amount of salmonella bacteria in the eggs. Each case of laboratory-confirmed
salmonella usually represents 30 cases that were not reported, public health
research shows. So the number of people sickened in this outbreak could be in
the thousands.

“This certainly has the
potential to be a very large outbreak both given the apparent number of reported
cases so far and also the fact that many of these eggs may still be in consumer
refrigerators,” says Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the
Center for Science in the Public Interest.

Salmonella can cause fever,
abdominal cramps and diarrhoea and usually lasts four to seven days.