Without bacteria, please. More than one-half billion eggs distributed through the United States have been recalled recently, because of contamination of the disease salmonella. Salmonella comes from eggs of salmonella-infected hens that carry the bacteria and pass it to eggs as they are being formed. Other causes can be that the eggs are not cleaned properly or kept cold while being transported. More than 1,000 persons in the U.S. have been affected. Symptoms are diarrhea, cramps, and/or developing fever within 72 hours of eating contaminated products. For persons with weakened immune systems, this can be life-threatening.
The majority of reported salmonellosis outbreaks involving eggs or egg-containing foods have occurred in foodservice kitchens and were the result of inadequate refrigeration, improper handling and insufficient cooking. If not properly handled, Salmonella bacteria can double every 20 minutes and a single bacterium can multiply into more than a million in 6 hours.
The source of the “bad eggs” in this case is a company that sells eggs to stores throughout the country, and those eggs come in containers that hold six, twelve, and eighteen eggs. The carton markings that include the plant number and day of the year have been posted on numerous websites, so be sure to check those numbers. Wright County Egg is a major egg producer with plants located in Iowa. They are a major employer in their area. According to public records, the company has paid millions in reprimands, penalties, and complaints. Although locals say the company has improved conditions in the past few years, the FDA will be investigating them thoroughly.
To avoid food poisoning from eggs, the CDC recommends taking these steps:
- Never eat recalled eggs or products containing recalled eggs.
- Keep eggs refrigerated at least to 45 degrees F at all times.
- Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing should contain pasteurized eggs.
- Do not eat raw or undercooked eggs.
- Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
- Wash hands, cooking utensils and food preparation surfaces with soap and water after handling raw eggs.
- Change your eating habits to well-done eggs, if you prefer “over-easy.”
Along with state representatives, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are developing new national standards with the aim of reducing and eventually eliminating egg-related salmonellosis. The strategies will include a scientific, risk-based, farm-to-table plan covering production, processing, transport, storage, retail handling and delivery. The plan will also include education on the responsibilities of consumers, inspectors and food handlers at all levels.
With this said, the safety of consumers should be taken very seriously. Better oversight by the FDA hopefully will eliminate this problem. We take for granted that the food we purchase will not harm us. Not too long ago, contaminated peanut butter was the cause of widespread food-borne illness. It is the responsibility of the producers to have regular inspections to ensure that food products are processed in clean, safe environments to assure the public that they won’t become ill from eating their products. Government entities owe it to the public to furnish constant oversight to places where the production of the food we eat is involved. Then, it is up to the consumer to keep the food at safe temperatures and prepare it in a healthy way. Speaking from experience, you don’t want “food poisoning,” it’s no fun at all.