Some Eggcellent Advice from the CDC Regarding the 2010 Salmonella Outbreak

CDC is collaborating with public health officials in multiple states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to investigate a nationwide increase of Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) infections.

Between May 1 to August 25, 2010, approximately 1,470 reported illnesses were likely to be associated with this outbreak.  FDA testing, identified Salmonella in egg farm environmental samples.  Epidemiologic investigations conducted by public health officials in 10 states since April, have identified 26 restaurants or event clusters where more than one ill person with the outbreak strain.  Data from the investigations suggest that shell eggs are a likely source of infections in many of these restaurants or event clusters.  Preliminary information indicates that Wright County Egg, in Galt, Iowa was an egg supplier in 15 of these 26 restaurants or event clusters.  To date, no new restaurant or event clusters have been reported to CDC.  A formal traceback was conducted by state partners in California, Colorado, and Minnesota, in collaboration with FDA and CDC, to find a common source of shell eggs. Wright County Egg in Iowa was found as the common source of the shell eggs associated with three of the clusters.  Through additional traceback and FDA investigational findings, Hillandale Farms of Iowa, Inc. was identified as another potential source of contaminated shell eggs contributing to this outbreak.

Advice to Consumers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning consumers not to eat recalled eggs. It is important that consumers avoid eating recalled eggs.  Some recalled eggs may possibly still be in grocery stores, restaurants and consumers’ homes.  If you have recalled eggs in your home, you should discard them or return them to their retailer for a refund.  If you are unsure if your eggs have been recalled, A searchable database is available for consumers.  In addition, individuals who think they might have become ill from eating recalled eggs should consult their health care providers.

To decrease your risk of contracting Salmonella Enteritidis it is important to take the following safety precautions:

  • Keep eggs refrigerated at ≤ 45° F (≤7° C) at all times.
  • Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
  • Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces with soap and water after contact with raw eggs.
  • Eggs should be cooked until both the white and the yolk are firm and eaten promptly after cooking.
  • Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  • Refrigerate unused or leftover egg- containing foods promptly.
  • Avoid eating raw eggs. (Sorry Rocky!)
  • Individuals wishing to further reduce their risk may consider using pasteurized, in-shell eggs.
  • 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.
  • Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs should be avoided, especially by young children, elderly persons, and persons with weakened immune systems or debilitating illness.

Learn more about Salmonella at the CDC website.