Who's Guarding the Hen House?

By John Lustyan

Who's Guarding the Hen House?Is it the FDA, the USDA, or perhaps, the State and local health departments? In the case of Wright County Farms, it appears they all have egg on their faces.

CBS News reports that the FDA, which is responsible for the inspections, had never inspected Wright County Egg farm during its 20 years of commercial egg production.

The USDA actually had a couple of people on the job. An inspector named Scott Duden was there before the recall. Unfortunately the report he filed in April 2010 was neither comprehensive nor accurate.

On Duden’s 27-point checklist, 13 items specific to potential contamination were marked as N/O ... indicating “Not Observed.” Including line items that read: “Free from presence of birds, insects, rodents” and “Adequate system/removal of refuse.”

Was Duden remiss, negligent or irresponsible, assuming that the USDA’s on-site associate had things under control? Regardless, the “on-site person” was not an inspector, but rather an “egg grader” whose primary focus was limited to measuring eggs and looking for cracked eggshells — not to recognize or point out the large sludge pit filled with chicken and hog manure that stood unattended nearby.

Still unfolding, the recall includes over a half-billion eggs potentially contributing to a salmonella outbreak. The matrix below is an egg recall list, identified by the brands under which they’re being sold, the plant identification numbers and the Julian Dates for packaging.

For example, using the illustration below, the eggs in a carton marked P-1946 223 should be considered suspect and not be eaten, as cooking will not eliminate the contaminant or your risk of infection.

To be safe and sure, check the dates and codes stamped on the end of the carton. You can return them in their original carton to the store where you purchased them for a refund. For inquiries and updates, you can call Info FDA at 1-888-463-6332.

According to the CDC - Centers for Disease Control, 76 million Americans get sick from food every year. It is nearly impossible to eliminate all risks of exposure to food- borne contaminants, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

The Risk of Salmonella Poisoning from Eggs

Eggs — like meat, poultry, milk, and other foods — are safe when handled properly. Shell eggs are safest when stored in the refrigerator, individually and thoroughly cooked, and promptly consumed or risk illness or food poisoning. The larger the number ofSalmonella present in the egg, the more likely it is to cause illness. Keeping eggs adequately prevents anySalmonellapresent in the eggs from growing to higher numbers, so eggs should be kept refrigerated until they are used.

Cooking reduces the number of bacteria present in an egg; however, an egg with a runny yolk still poses a greater risk than a completely cooked egg. Undercooked egg whites and yolks have been associated with outbreaks ofSalmonella enteritidis infections. Both should be consumed promptly and not be kept warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

9 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of a Salmonella enteritidis Infection.

  1. Keep eggs refrigerated at ≤ 45° F (≤7° C) at all times.
  2. Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
  3. Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.
  4. Eggs should be cooked until both the egg white and the egg yolk are firm and eaten promptly after cooking.
  5. Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  6. Refrigerate unused or leftover egg-containing foods promptly.
  7. Avoid eating raw eggs, including in uncooked products like raw cookie dough.
  8. Avoid restaurant dishes made with raw or undercooked, unpasteurized eggs. Restaurants should use pasteurized eggs in any recipe (such as Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing) that calls for raw eggs. If you do remember, you can always ask your server.
  9. The consumption of raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided, especially by young children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness.

Who Is At The Greatest Risk?

The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems may have a more severe illness. In these patients, the infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

Recognizing Salmonella enteritidis?

A person infected with the Salmonella enteritidis bacterium usually has fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea beginning 12 to 72 hours after consuming a contaminated food or beverage.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without antibiotic treatment. However, the diarrhea can be severe, and the person may be ill enough to require hospitalization.

If you have any of theses symptoms or suspect you have Salmonella enteritidis, contact your doctor or seek medical counsel immediately.

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