FDA is currently investigating a Salmonella outbreak linked to eggs being produced at Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County Farm. The authorities have advised the consumers to not eat eggs produced at these farms because, as of 13th April 2018, these eggs have caused 22 reported infections of a rare form of Salmonella across multiple states last month. According to the Federal Food and Drug Administration, the eggs from the farms were distributed across nine states of America, including: Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The company has recalled more than 200 million eggs of its farm where the outbreaks were sourced. The investigators from FDA worked alongside CDC and state authorities to conduct traceback searches to find the eggs that were causing illnesses. The farm is located in Hyde County in North Carolina and owned by Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, Indiana.
Rose Acre farms is the second largest producer of eggs in the United States. They employ 2000 people and own 3 million egg laying hens that produce about 2.3 million eggs in a day just at that one farm. According to a statement released by the company, they have a United States Department of Agriculture inspector on site daily. The company is the manufacturer of shell eggs, specialty eggs and several other quality egg products, such as: dried eggs, egg protein powder, etc. The Hyde County Farm in Carolina has never been involved in the outbreak or recall before. They have also never been involved in a serious safety violation before. The company is cooperating with the officials and investigators that are working on the recall.
Eggs from the Hyde county farm have been sold under numerous brand names to various restaurants and supermarkets like Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms and Sunshine Farms. The egg cartons that are affected by the recall are labeled with the plant number P-1065. The packet dates should be between 011 to 102 according to the Julian number system. The Julian dates start with 001 as the start of January and 365 as the end of December or end of year. So, these dates mean the packing has been done within January 11 through April 12 of 2018. This number system is quite common on egg cartons.
FDA has urged consumers to check the labeling before they purchase eggs and avoid the products that are contaminated.
The following is a brief timeline of the investigation into this outbreak:
March 5, 2018 – A cluster of Salmonella Braenderup infections in multiple states were reported to FDA. Investigators at FDA along with CDC and state authorities started an investigation. They began collecting additional information and traceback activities in order to identify a common food source among the reported infections. Eggs were identified as a possible source after interviews were conducted with the ill persons. FDA went through several records in order to identify the source of eggs which people ate.
March 26, 2018 – April 11, 2018 – FDA conducted an in-depth inspection of the Hyde County farms once they got to know the eggs were produced there. They started collecting samples for the testing at the farm.
On April 11, 2018, FDA received a confirmation from their laboratory analysis that one of the samples collected from the Rose Acre Farm in North Carolina has the same Salmonella strain that is making people ill in several states. This evidence has confirmed that the Hyde county farm of Rose Acre Farm Inc. is the likely source of the eggs that have caused infections.
April 13, 2018 – Rose Acre Farms Inc. issued a voluntary recall with plant number P-1065 and that have Julian dates from 011 through 102. These numbers are printed on the cartons of the eggs.
The investigation is under way and the FDA will keep on providing updated information as soon as it is available.
The last egg outbreak in the United States was in 2016 and the strains of Salmonella Oranienburg were identified in the infections. A total of 8 people were identified from 3 different states. The eggs were sourced to The Good Earth Egg company and they recalled all their eggs that were a possible source of contamination. The investigation ended with the recall. There were no deaths due to the outbreak.
The last big outbreak related to eggs that caused Salmonella was reported in 2010. Half a billion eggs were recalled as a result of the outbreak that caused more than 3500 reported illnesses in a period of around 6 months. Salmonella enteritidis was the strain of the infection. The recall was traced back to Wright County egg and Hillandale farms of Iowa.
All the consumers and retail owners who are in possession of the contaminated products should either throw them out or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or exchange. They should not keep products that are the source of pathogens as they risk cross contamination to other products and equipment.
To stay safe, it is crucial that you follow proper food safety practices. Wash and sanitize all the kitchen equipment, such as: cutting boards, knives, surfaces, etc. Always maintain extra care with raw meat and dairy products as they are a source of pathogens.
If you feel ill or think might have consumed the recalled products, we recommend you contact your health care specialist as soon as possible.
Salmonella infections can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe, cases, fever and bloody diarrhea may also be present. The symptoms can start between 6-72 hours after the infection. The diarrhea can be severe. Most patients will recover from the disease within 4-7 days without any need for antibiotics. The infection can cause complications in older people, children, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems. Hospitalization may be required in some cases. Medical care is recommended, as urgent medical care can help reduce the potential of long-term complications.
By: Pooja Sharma, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)