By Peter Mucha
Inquirer Staff Writer
While 380 million eggs are part of a national recall, officials in Pennsylvania and New Jersey say residents of their states have little reason to be scared.Although the eggs involved were sold under a lengthy list of brand names in many states, no rise in egg-related salmonella has been noticed in the region.
The recall doesn't really affect Pennsylvania, said Holly Senior, spokeswoman for the state health department.
"Nothing yet in our state," said Marilyn Riley, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services.
In Delaware, no cases have been confirmed related to the recall have been confirmed, said Heidi Pruschel-Light, spokeswoman for the state health department.
The recall grew from the discovery of several outbreaks - mostly in California, Colorado and Minnesota, said Lola Russell, a spokeswoman with the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Normally, about 50 cases of salmonella infections will be reported in a given summer week, so when the number spiked past 200 - most of it from California - investigators went into action, she said. The source was quickly identified as a major producer named Wright County Egg, based in Galt, Iowa. Through distribution centers and food companies in California, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, Wright eggs get shipped to many states.
The company quickly agreed to the recall.
Consumers could check for the following brands: Albertson, Boomsma's, Dutch Farms, Farm Fresh, Hillandale, Kemp, Lucerne, Lund, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Shoreland, Sunshine and Trafficanda.
Affected carton sizes range from 6 eggs to 18. If you have one of the brands, check plant and date codes on the carton or case. Look for plant codes P-1026, P-1413, P-1720, P-1946 or P-1942, followed by three digit date codes from 136 to 229.
Recalled eggs should be returned to the point of purchase.
To avoid salmonella, consumers are advised to avoid to raw or undercooked eggs; to wash hands and objects touched by raw egg; and to refrigerate eggs and leftover foods containing them, health officials say.
Fever, cramps and diarrhea are the usual symptoms of salmonella enteritidis infections. Sometimes hospital treatment with antibiotics is needed, especially with infants, the elderly, and people who have compromised immune systems. Untreated salmonella infections reaching the bloodstream can be fatal.
Consumers with questions should visit www.eggsafety.org or call Wright County at 866-272-5582 for a message outlining recall instructions.
By TIMOTHY W. MARTIN
Food retailers and manufacturers are rushing to tell consumers that their products are safe amid a nationwide recall of 380 million eggs that may be infected with salmonella bacteria.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said it hadn't yet found clear evidence of contamination, although heavy rainfall near the Iowa company that produced the eggs may have raised the risk of salmonella infestation from rodents.
Wright County Egg Co. of Galt, Iowa, on Wednesday expanded the recall from 228 million eggs recalled last week. The company is owned by Jack DeCoster, whose companies in the past have been fined by federal regulators for allegedly hiring illegal immigrants and for other alleged workplace violations.
A company spokeswoman said Mr. DeCoster wasn't available for an interview. She declined to comment beyond a statement saying that the recall was a voluntary measure and that the company continued to fully cooperate with the FDA.
The recalled eggs could be linked with hundreds of illnesses in at least 10 states, and probably many more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those numbers could grow as more data become available, U.S. health officials said.
The recall poses a threat to the wider egg-producing industry, thanks to confusion that can arise in the wake of recalls. In recent years, high-profile recalls for spinach and peanuts have led to temporary sales declines.
"Consumers don't take the time to look at the FDA Web page to see which suppliers are affected,They'd rather say, 'Man, I'm not going to consume eggs for the next month,' " said Mark Jarvis, CEO of Steritech Group Inc., which audits companies seeking food-safety and quality certification.
The eggs suspected in the salmonella outbreak were packed starting in May. While new FDA egg safety rules went into effect July 9, it is difficult to say for sure that they could have prevented the outbreak, said FDA Associate Commissioner Jeff Farrar. If all new egg safety rules had been in place earlier, "it might have reduced the risk," he said.
Hens can be infected with salmonella and pass it to their eggs in a variety of ways, but frequently the bacteria come from rodents that leave fecal droppings in feed troughs and silos. Unusually heavy rains in the Galt area may have sent mice and rats seeking shelter in chicken houses and feed bins, said AccuWeather.com, a meteorological service.
Salmonella is destroyed by heat. Eggs should be cooked at 145 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds, says the Egg Safety Center, an industry group. Investigators believe many of the reported cases of illness stemmed from people eating raw eggs used in salad dressings or meringue at restaurants.
All egg products, such as liquid, frozen and dried eggs, are required by law to be pasteurized. Many restaurant chains use these products rather than raw eggs. Wendy's/Arby's Group Inc. and Domino's Pizza Inc., for example, said they used only pasteurized egg products and wouldn't have any recalled eggs in their food.
Grocers started pulling eggs from shelves last weekend. Kroger Co., whose Ralphs division in California was affected, said it alerted customers who had purchased the specific brand of eggs by phone. Albertsons stores in southern California, which are owned by Supervalu Inc., said signs about the recall were posted on store shelves.
—Julie Jargon and Alicia Mundy contributed to this article.
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