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The latest Salmonella recall (and possibly outbreak?) is currently affecting consumers of Gravel Ridge Farm eggs, with victims located mainly in the Southern United States. The affected states of Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee have been alerted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with Gravel Ridge Farm following the guidance of the FDA in their endeavors to keep the crisis under control. FDA and Gravel Ridge Farm are working quickly to try to alleviate the potential risk to consumers after receiving notice from the authorities on Thursday that “the product they supplied may be contaminated with salmonella.” As the recall was announced extremely recently, news is still outbreaking as the FDA conducts further investigations. Information about the nature of the recall and possible outbreak is still in its preliminary reporting and are subject to change. As of this post, the CDC has not launched an investigation or outbreak page.
What We Know
First, what is known by the FDA is that the affected eggs were sent to distributors by Gravel Ridge Farm between June 25 and last Thursday, September 6th, and have use by dates from July 25 through to October 18, 2018. Eggs have a long shelf life, thus the risk of contamination from a Gravel Ridge Farm egg is still extremely pertinent as consumers can still be left unaware of the danger. This four month period leaves plenty of opportunity for foodborne illnesses to manifest. Consequently, Gravel Ridge Farms requests that any of its eggs in refrigerators be thrown out, no matter the expiration date. The contaminated products were packaged in a cardboard container and sold primarily in restaurants and retail stores in Atlanta, Georgia, and Tennessee. The company-written, FDA-posted recall notice states, “the recall was initiated because reported illnesses were confirmed at locations using Gravel Ridge Farm Eggs, and we are voluntarily recalling out of an abundance of caution.”
The response from the company has been to stop producing its Cage Free Large Eggs, recalling the eggs in boxes sold by the dozen and 30 egg containers. Consumers who have purchased these products can return to a store for refund. *NOTE: If you do return the cartons to the store, it is a good idea to take a picture of the carton, UPC code, and all sides of the packaging, just in case you do become sick.
Gravel Ridge Farms and the FDA urge that eggs that are stored waiting to be eat must be discarded as a precautionary measure to ensure that salmonella is not spread further amongst consumers. The date is no longer important on the boxes and, instead, all boxes must be put in the trash. The owners of Gravel Ridge Farms have stated that “if any consumers have Gravel Ridge Farms eggs in their refrigerator, they should be discarded, regardless of the date stamped on the package. The recall was initiated because reported illnesses were confirmed at locations using Gravel Ridge Farm Eggs, and we are voluntarily recalling out of an abundance of caution.”
To identify if you could have been affected by the outbreak, the eggs that have been potentially contaminated have a UPC number of 7-06970-38444-6. Further, consumers can identify the affected eggs by looking for the following information on the produce: Gravel Ridge Farms branded large cage-free eggs sold in single dozen containers and 30 egg container. Gravel Ridge Farms have been assisting the FDA throughout the process to ensure that the situation can be bought under control. The potential for salmonella to cause a serious illness gives urgency to food safety experts in efficiently managing the outbreak. The most effective way is to make potentially affected consumers aware of the dangers and to follow key preventative steps.
Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses in the U.S. each year with the vast majority of the illnesses being caused by contaminated foods. Healthy people often recover from salmonella in a few days. However, Salmonella can also be life-threatening and even deadly, with 450 deaths registered in the U.S. every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The bacteria that causes Salmonella infections are typically transmitted through contaminated food with symptoms including: fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. For healthy people, the pain and discomfort is temporary and passes after a few days and when the immune system has fought off the illness. The fever is a result of salmonellosis, the infection caused by the Salmonella bacteria. Those most at risk of Salmonella are those who have been contaminated with weakened immune systems, which include: young children, frail and elderly people, and pregnant women.
The work of the FDA in the coming days is to collaborate with Gravel Ridge Farm to bring the epidemic under control. Anyone feeling ill and suffering with a potential Salmonella outbreak should seek medical attention at the first available opportunity. Given that the eggs have been declared contaminated by the FDA, ill people should make medical professionals aware of the exposure to Salmonella to ensure that the correct tests can be performed for an accurate diagnosis. There is a risk of Salmonella entering the bloodstream and worsening, making the situation critical and in need of urgent attention. Examples of these severe illnesses include arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis.
It is important to note that Gravel Ridge Farm has ceased the production and distribution of their eggs as FDA continue their investigation as to what caused the problem. The partial list provided by FDA recall, includes the following retailers:
▪ Atlanta: Candler Park Market, Grant Park Market, Westview Corner Market, Sevananda Natural Foods, The Merchantile.
▪ Birmingham: Piggly Wigglys in Clairemont, River Run, Crestline, Bluff Park, Dunnavent Valle, Wiggly Warrior and Homewood; Western Markets in Mt. Brook and Rocky Ridge.
▪ Other parts of Alabama: A Foodland in Eva an one in Priceville; two Warehouse Discount Grocery stores in Cullman, one in Hanceville; Star Market in Huntsville; and Manna Grocery in Tuscaloosa.
To conclude, consumers of Gravel Ridge Farm eggs are facing a potential Salmonella epidemic in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia, but the confirmation of such is pending. The recently announced outbreak by FDA is still in its early stages but must be quickly tackled to keep the numbers affected low. Following the advice of FDA to dispose of all Gravel Ridge Farm, effectively communicating this news with at-risk consumers is key. Given the popularity of eggs and the long shelf life of the produce, this will be a challenge. Food safety experts must now urgently work to ensure this potentially perilous situation is brought under control and the risk of foodborne illness nullified.
By: Billy Rayfield, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)