Over half a billion eggs recalled in US

A Salmonella outbreak in the USA has seen 550m eggs recalled by two producers after hundreds of people fell ill with food poisoning.

The latest company to join the massive recall is Hillandale Farms, Iowa which announced on 20 August it was withdrawing 170m eggs from sale due to fears they could be contaminated with Salmonella.

Hillandale joins Wright County Egg in Galt, also from Iowa, which started the voluntary recall on 13 August withdrawing 228m eggs, expanded it withing days to include a further 152m eggs due to contamination fears, according to the New York Times.

The recalls have been prompted by testing which revealed Salmonella in the eggs following an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration following a spike in cases of S enteritidis in California, Minnesota and Colorado.

In total 18 brands of eggs across the states of California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Texas are being recalled with investigators worried more producers could be affected.

This massive recall comes at the same time as food safety is high on the agenda of the Federal Government with it trying to pass the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act which it hopes will lift food safety standards. On 9 July the FDA implemented its own regulations to improve food safety regarding Salmonella in eggs which it estimates causes 79,000 illness and 30 deaths in the USA each year. Under the new regulations producers must enforce biosecurity measures on farms to prevent Salmonella cross contamination by workers or equipment, control rodents, establish testing regimes for laying houses and eggs and monitor storage temperatures.

The rules only apply to egg producers with 50,000 or more laying hens and will be expanded to included producers with from 3000 to 50,000 from July 2012.

At the moment all eggs from Wright County Eggs and Hillandale Farms are being sold to an egg breaker for use in food manufacture where they will be pasteurised, killing the Salmonella bacteria, before use.

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