On Saturday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced an investigation into a potentially widespread outbreak of Salmonella poisoning linked to eggs that have been sold in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The farm’s owner, Rose Acre Farms, recalled the eggs on Friday out of “an abundance of caution.”
So far, FDA officials suspect the recalled eggs could be linked to 23 infections, but with the recall covering over 206 million eggs, it’s possible that more cases will surface. Rose Acre Farms reported that it could have potentially infected eggs sold under the brand names Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion store brand, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, and Sunshine Farms. The eggs were also sold directly to restaurants. The FDA urges anyone who might have bought the eggs to throw them away and thoroughly wash anything the eggs might have touched.
Salmonella is a food-borne bacteria that’s responsible for 1.2 million illnesses and 23,000 hospital visits in the U.S. each year, according to the CDC. There are many strains of the bacteria; the one involved in the current outbreak is called Salmonella Braenderup. Over 80 percent of infections are caused by food contaminated with various strains of Salmonella bacteria, which make people sick by producing toxins that cause pain and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. For most people, symptoms subside after four to seven days.
While most people can fight off the infection naturally, the very young, the very old, those with weakened immune systems, and people who have received organ transplants are most at risk for serious complications from Salmonella infections, which can be fatal. The illness increases the permeability of the gastrointestinal tract, causing serious diarrhea, which must be managed to prevent dangerous levels of dehydration. In most cases, symptoms go away without antibiotic treatment.
In the case of the current outbreak, the FDA will continue to monitor hospital reports for additional cases of Salmonella that could be linked to Rose Acre Farms. The agency is spreading information about the recall, but does not actively participate in removing eggs from stores. Customers, both restaurants and individuals, are responsible for throwing away their own eggs or returning them for a refund.
In the case of an outbreak that affects such a large number of eggs, it’s possible that we’ll see the final infection count rise above 23, but hopefully, a rapid response will help curb the outbreak.