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Salmonella Outbreak, Eggs, And Rose Acre Farms: What You Need To Know

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Eggs from Rose Acre Farms may be the source of a salmonella outbreak. (Photo by Sergei MalgavkoTASS via Getty Images)

This is totally not eggcellent. Eggs from Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County farm seem to be the culprit for a salmonella outbreak that has now affected people in at least 9 states. On May 10, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an update on this outbreak that has affected at least 35 people and resulted in at least 11 hospitalizations. In this case, eggs mean chicken eggs and not other types of eggs like caviar or hamster eggs.

On April 13, Rose Acre Farms voluntarily issued a recall of 206,749,248 eggs (approximately) that were potentially contaminated with Salmonella Braenderup. Three days later Cal-Maine Foods, which purchased eggs from Rose Acre, announced a voluntary recall of 23,400 dozen eggs for the same concerns. Salmonella Braenderup can lead to fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea from 12 to 72 hours after it goes into your mouth. In most cases, it results in 4 to 7 very poopy days but usually resolves without any treatment. However, sometimes diarrhea can be severe enough to lead to dehydration, requiring hospitalization. More rarely, the infection can spread beyond your intestines into your blood,  blood vessels, and heart, which could be life threatening. In such cases, antibiotics are necessary to combat the infection.   

You can’t really tell whether an egg is safe by just looking at it or asking the egg. Although if your egg responds to your questions, it is probably not safe to eat. You should always try to take the precautions offered here:

And pay attention to any food warnings such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “advising consumers not to eat recalled eggs produced by Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County farm.” That means not eating them in a box, with a fox, with a mouse, in a house, in a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train, or here, there or anywhere until further notice. This also means not eating Rose Acre Farm eggs that are sold under brand names such as Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, Sunshine Farms, Publix, and Sunups. So read the FDA advisory and check your eggs. Make sure that a restaurant is aware of this advisory before you eat their egg white omelet with avocado, goat cheese and microgreens on a gluten-free toast or whatever else you may eat that may have eggs. If there is any doubt, toss the eggs or better yet return the eggs for a refund.

How did the eggs become contaminated? According to FDA documents, inspections conducted from March 26 to April 11 of this year found “unacceptable rodent activity” (as opposed to acceptable rodent activity) at the Rose Acre Farms in Pantego, N.C. This included “an ongoing rodent infestation” since September 2017. If you’d like some nice breakfast reading, read the report, which indicated that there were “multiple live apparent rodents running around the staging area in pit, and burrowing in and out of manure piles” and “rodents seen while walking rows during swab collection; also, a large spill/pile of what appeared to be feed with large flying insects too numerous to count.” In general, you don’t want to see the words “large flying insects” and “too numerous to count” in the same sentence.

The document also described “insanitary conditions and poor employee practices.” For example, the report stated that “throughout the inspection several production and maintenance employees were observed touching non-food contact surfaces (i.e. face, hair, intergluteal cleft, production equipment with accumulated grime and food debris, floor, boxes, trash cans, inedible transport cans) and then touch shell eggs and food contact surfaces (i.e. buffers, rollers, etc.) without changing gloves or washing hands.” If you are wondering, “intergluteal cleft” is a scientific term for “butt crack.” 

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