The current Salmonella outbreak from contaminated eggs has many people concerned, and understandably so. The outbreak has sickened 35 people in nine states and prompted a recall of more than 200 million eggs.
It’s possible, however, to eat eggs safely, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Here are some of the CDC’s most salient safety tips:
- Buy and use only pasteurized eggs and products. This information should be printed on the packaging.
- Always refrigerate eggs at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
- Only buy eggs that have been kept at the proper temperature. If that information isn’t readily available in the store, then ask.
- Throw out eggs that are cracked or dirty.
- Egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees or hotter.
- Make sure foods that contain raw or lightly cooked eggs – hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, and tiramisu, to name a few – are made only with pasteurized eggs.
- Eat or refrigerate foods containing eggs immediately after they are cooked. Do not keep foods made with eggs warm or at room temperature for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is at least 90 degrees.
- Thoroughly wash hands and items that came into contact with raw eggs — counter tops, utensils, dishes, and cutting boards — with soap and water.
The CDC issued its latest outbreak update on May 10, and will undoubtedly issue another before this week is up. Illnesses that have occurred after March 23 might not have been recorded yet because of the time it takes between when a person becomes sick and when the illness is reported. This can take anywhere from two weeks to a month.
The CDC’s statistics show that in addition to the 12 people added to the rolls last week, 11 victims have been hospitalized. Illnesses began last Nov. 16 and have been reported through April 14. Victims range in age from 1 year old to 90; the median age is 65.
Generally, people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. That happens between 12 and 72 hours after they have become infected. Most people recover without needing medical care; the illness can last as long as a week.
Diarrhea, however, can become so severe that hospitalization is required. For these people, the infection might spread to the blood stream. When this occurs, Salmonella can result in death, unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
Young children, senior citizens, and people with compromised immune systems are at the greatest risk of developing a severe illness.
Huge recall in April
The Salmonella outbreak prompted an April 13 recall of almost 207 million eggs by Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, IN. Rose Acre Farms officials initiated the recall after at least 22 people became sick on the East Coast. Those illnesses were traced to the company’s Hyde County production facility in North Carolina.
The potentially Salmonella-contaminated eggs were sold in nine states: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Illnesses were reported in all nine states; New York and Virginia reported the most at eight apiece.
The eggs were sold under multiple brand names, including: Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, Publix, Sunshine Farms, and Sunups. They also were sold at Walmart and Food Lion stores.
The affected cartons have the Julian date range of 011 through 102 printed on them. The brand names and UPC codes can be found on the Food and Drug Administration release here.