A Missouri-based company has recalled eggs from stores across the Midwest, after the FDA traced a salmonella outbreak back to its products.
At least eight people in three states – Illinois, Kansas and Missouri – were sickened by the tainted eggs, and at least two have been hospitalized.
The eggs in question were distributed by the Good Earth Egg Company, but were sold under various brand names. Consumers can determine whether their eggs are included in the recall by looking for a label that reads “Packed for Good Earth Egg Company” or “Produced for Good Earth Egg Company.” If there is no label at all with the distributor’s name, consumers should contact the store where the eggs were purchased.
Infants, elderly and immunocompromised in greatest danger
The recalled eggs were sold in counts of 10, 12 and 17, and in cases of 15 dozen and 30 dozen. They contain “Sell by” dates of or prior to 10/08/2016. The FDA is warning consumers not to eat any eggs from the recalled batches, but instead to throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund. Any surfaces or utensils that might have come into contact with tainted eggs should be thoroughly cleaned with soap and hot water.
The FDA is also urging anyone with salmonella symptoms to seek medical treatment. Symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, fever and abdominal cramping.
Salmonella is a common food-borne illness of the intestinal tract. Most patients recover without needing treatment, but the disease can be dangerous or even deadly in infants, the elderly or the immunocompromised.
About 19,000 people are hospitalized every year from salmonella poisoning. The most dangerous effect of salmonella is typically dehydration. Salmonella can only be diagnosed via a stool or blood test.
How to reduce your risk
Eggs are the second-ranking cause of salmonella poisoning, after chicken meat.
In fact, chickens and their eggs are one of the top sources of food-borne illnesses. A 2010 study by the Consumers Union found that two-thirds of all store-bought chickens may be contaminated with common illness-causing bacteria. And according to a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chicken is the food most likely to cause illness ending in death.
That same study found that the top food most likely to cause food poisoning, however, was actually salad greens. Although greens themselves are rarely host to dangerous bacteria, they are regularly contaminated by animal waste either in the form of manure-based fertilizers or via runoff from nearby feedlots.
More recently, a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed for the first time that poultry meat can be a source of the superbug methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The study provides the first evidence that consumers can contract MRSA merely by preparing and consuming tainted poultry meat.
You can reduce your risk of salmonella poisoning by avoiding factory-farmed poultry products. But even healthy chickens and their eggs can host salmonella, and the disease can also be passed from person to person.
The best way to avoid salmonella is to always wash your hands with soap and water after preparing any form of raw meat or eggs, using the bathroom, changing a diaper, cleaning up pet feces, or touching reptiles or birds (some of which naturally carry the bacteria).
Good kitchen practices also reduce your risk of salmonella and other food-borne illness. Health experts recommend keeping meat, poultry and seafood separate from all other foods, and having a special cutting board designated for these higher-risk foods. Consumers should also avoid eating raw eggs, and wash all produce thoroughly before eating (especially produce that will be eaten raw).
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