Eggs are a staple at most home’s breakfast table. Fried, hard-boiled, deviled, poached, scrambled, or baked on toast. The egg is a protein rich meal or side dish for many. Regardless of how you serve it up, Salmonellais a risk factor when it comes to eggs.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement on April 16, 2018 that linked an outbreak of Salmonella braenderup infections with Rose Acre Farms shell eggs. At this time 23 people have fallen ill across 9 states, including: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. This has resulted in 6 hospitalizations so far.
Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, Indiana issued a voluntary recall on April 13, 2018 for a whopping 206,749,248 shell eggs due to potential contamination with Salmonella bacteria. These eggs are distributed under many different brands.
Consumers are asked to check for plant number P-1065 and Julian date range of 011 though 102. This information is printed on the package or carton. Consumers are urged to not eat the recalled shell eggs. Restaurants and retailers are instructed to not serve or sell them. The recalled product should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase for a full refund.
How Does the CDC Know Rose Acre Farms Eggs are Responsible?
A variety of information sources are used to determine the source of an outbreak. Epidemiologic evidence, laboratory test results, and traceback investigations indicated that this outbreak was traced to Rose Acre Farms as the likely source of this particular multistate outbreak.
According to all of the patients who were interviewed, ALL of them indicated eating shell eggs leading up to their illness. Investigators compare this to a survey of unaffected healthy people, of which only 38% reported eating shell eggs. This stark difference increases the statistical probability that eggs are the source of the outbreak. Of the patients interviewed, 65% reported consuming egg dishes at different restaurants.
FDA traced the source of some of the shell eggs supplied to these restaurant locations to Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County, North Carolina farm. FDA investigators inspected the farm and collected samples for testing. Laboratory testing identified the outbreak strain of Salmonellabraenderup in environmental samples taken at the farm.
Several agencies such as the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and public health and regulatory officials in several states are participating in the Salmonella braenderup outbreak investigation. Salmonella braenderup is one of the many pathogenic strains of Salmonella. Investigators know that each of the patients linked to the outbreak are infected with this strain due to their participation in the national subtyping network, PulseNet.
PulseNet is a database used by the public health and food regulatory agency laboratories and is coordinated by the CDC. DNA fingerprinting achieved by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing allows very specific strain information to be obtained. Each patient diagnosed with an illness such as Salmonella will have the results of these tests uploaded into PulseNet. Outbreak investigators look at trends to identify if several people are sickened with the same exact strain. In these cases, an outbreak investigation is launched in an attempt to identify a source and help prevent others from falling under the same illness.
In this investigation, as of April 16, 2018 a total of 23 people were infected with the same strain of Salmonella braenderup. Whole genome sequencing of bacteria obtained from sick patients indicated a close genetic relationship between all responsible bacteria. Illness onset ranged from November 16, 2017 to March 22, 2018. Whole genome sequencing results did not predict antibiotic resistance in the samples taken from 14 of those patients. Additional antibiotic resistance testing is underway.
What Do I Do If I Have the Recalled Eggs?
If you happen to have any of the recalled eggs in your home, you really need to do a little more than just tossing them in the trash. Salmonella can be in and on the packaging in addition to being on the eggs themselves.
The CDC recommends 5 simple steps to properly and effectively clean your refrigerator to protect yourself and your family from the recalled product. To begin, you will need to gather a few supplies. They suggest sealed bags, warm soapy water, clean towels, and an optional water with bleach. A diluted bleach solution is best to kill pathogenic bacteria.
Once your refrigerator is clean and all items back at a safe temperature, wash your hands with warm, soapy water. To be safe, also clean counters where items were placed during the cleaning process. As a final step, wash any towels used before using them again.
MakeFoodSafe.com will continue monitoring the outbreak as more details emerge. Stay tuned to MakeFoodSafe.com and CDC’s outbreak page for more information.
By: Heather Van Tassell, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)