Second Iowa Firm Recalls Eggs

By: AP/CBS
By: AP/CBS

(CBS/AP) A second Iowa farm is recalling eggs due to salmonella poisoning. The FDA says the recall is related to an ongoing investigation of an outbreak that has sickened more than 1,000 people.

Iowa's Hillandale Farms said Friday that it was recalling its eggs after laboratory tests confirmed illnesses associated with them. The company did not say how many eggs were being recalled or if it is connected to Wright County Egg, the Iowa farm that recalled 380 million eggs earlier this week.

An FDA spokeswoman said the two recalls were related. The strain of salmonella poisoning is the same strain linked to Wright County Egg.

Eggs were distributed under the brand names Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms and West Creek.

The salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds and led to the recall of hundreds of millions of eggs from one Iowa firm is likely to grow, federal health officials said Thursday.

That's because illnesses occurring after mid-July may not be reported yet, said Dr. Christopher Braden, an epidemiologist with the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Almost 2,000 illnesses from the strain of salmonella linked to the eggs were reported between May and July, about 1,300 more than usual, he said. No deaths have been reported. The CDC is continuing to receive information from state health departments as people report their illnesses.

"I would anticipate that we will be seeing more illnesses reported likely as a result of this outbreak," said Braden. The recall of 380 million eggs from Iowa's Wright County Egg is one of the largest shell egg recalls in recent history.

The eggs were distributed around the country and packaged under the names Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp.

The key information for consumers to look for is the plant number, which is displayed at the side of the carton, CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. said. The numbers to avoid are 1026, 1413, 1720, 1942 and 1946.

The dates (recorded in the "Julian format") range from 136 to 225, according to a statement by the Egg Safety Center. For example, eggs in a carton marked with the number P-1026 137 should not be eaten.

Ashton gave some basic tips to minimize risk of salmonella from eggs:

• Avoid consuming raw or undercooked eggs.
• Don't cook with eggs sitting out for more than two hours.
• Always wash your hands after handling egg products.
• If in doubt, throw it out. If you don't know where your carton came from, get rid of it.

The outbreak could have been prevented if new rules to ensure egg safety had been in place a few months earlier, an FDA spokeswoman said.

The rules, which require producers to do more testing for salmonella and take other precautions, went into effect in July. They had languished for more than a decade after President Bill Clinton first proposed that egg standards be toughened. The FDA said in July that the new safeguards could reduce the number of salmonella cases by nearly 60 percent.

"There are preventive measures that would have been in place that could have prevented this," said Sherri McGarry of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

She and other officials declined to say what specific measures would have prevented this particular outbreak, citing an ongoing FDA investigation.

Hinda Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the company, said it abided by guidance issued by the United Egg Producers, an industry group. Those procedures mirror several aspects of the federal egg safety rule.

FDA's McGarry said illnesses were traced back to eggs produced on three of five farms the Iowa company owns. The investigation, which includes sampling, records review and sanitation assessments, is focusing on those three farms.

Salmonella is the most common form of food poisoning from bacteria, and the strain involved in the outbreak is the most common kind of salmonella - accounting for roughly 20 percent of all such food poisonings.

Minnesota, a state with some of the best food-borne illness investigators in the country, has tied at least seven salmonella illnesses to the eggs. California has reported 266 illnesses since June and believes many are related to the eggs. Colorado saw 28 cases in June and July, about four times the usual number.

Other states have seen a jump in reports of the same type of salmonella. Spikes or clusters of suspicious cases have also been reported in Arizona, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin.

The CDC said investigations by 10 states since April have identified 26 cases where more than one person became ill. Preliminary information showed that Wright was the supplier in at least 15 of those.


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