August 23, 2010

Egg Recall Could Be Expanded, FDA Head Says

The ongoing salmonella outbreak could result in more egg recalls, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said during a pair of television appearances on Monday.

"We may see some additional sort of sub-recalls over the next couple of days, maybe even weeks, as we better understand the network of distribution of these eggs that are contaminated," Hamburg told Matt Lauer of NBC's 'Today' show.

"We don't know exactly how the contamination got into the chicken population, into the egg population, and we're not yet fully sure the extent of the recall that will be necessary to protect consumers," she added in an interview on ABC's 'Good Morning America,' calling this "probably the largest egg recall that has happened in recent history."

Nearly 300 people have become ill throughout the U.S., according to Reuters.

On August 20, Hillandale Farms of Iowa issued a voluntary recall of potentially contaminated eggs. The eggs in question were sold under the Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms, and West Creek labels in fourteen states (Arkansas, California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin).

Only eggs with specific plant numbers (P1860 and P1663) were included in the recall, according to a Hillandale Farms press release. In addition, eggs from a second supplier--Wright County Egg--are also part of the salmonella outbreak. According to Reuters reports, Wright County Egg recalled 380 million eggs last week.

A full list of all brand affected by the recall, as well as the package type and plant number, can be viewed online at the Egg Safety Center website.

"We're continuing to investigate aggressively to determine the exact source of the contamination," Hamburg said on the NBC morning news program. "As we move forward with the recall, we may see some additional sub-recalls over the next couple of days, maybe even weeks as we better understand the sort of network of distribution of these eggs that are potentially contaminated."

The FDA head is advising people to keep their eggs refrigerated, to wash their hands before and after handling them, and to make sure that they are fully cooked--which means making sure that the yolks are no longer runny, as fried eggs with runny yolks could still cause people to fall ill.  Furthermore, according to the FDA website, cracked eggs should be immediately discarded, and eggs should not be kept at or above room temperature for more than two hours of time.


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