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Millions of eggs recalled in salmonella outbreak

  • Rmis32 Aug 18, 2010 10:22 AM

...federal government reports a multi-state outbreak of salmonella.

Read more: http://wellness.blogs.time.com/2010/0...

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  1. Suddenly my elitist preference for local free range eggs does not seem so ridiculous.

    1 Reply
    1. re: small h

      I hear you! Just started buying local pastured eggs 2 months ago...but I must say, Nature's Harvest eggs with Omega 3's has a pretty damned good amount of Omega 3's for a regular egg! Guess I'll stick with the local goods!

    2. I was glad to read that the company is sending the remainder of its eggs to a company that will pasteurize them so they can be used (presumably by companies manufacturing processed foods). Since sufficient heating (I've read different temps, from 130-160F) renders them safe, it's a shame that so much of this food is being discarded. IMO, in this type of circumstance, there should be a warning not to consume them raw or undercooked, rather than a complete recall.

      2 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        VERY good point, GG! Thanks!

        1. re: greygarious

          What I read (at USDA, I think) was a warning not to consume uncooked or undercooked. Just the same, there was the recall, but I think that was about PR more than anything else. So many people do their eggs soft, so my guess is nobody wanted to take any chances. We had a good 6 of the "tainted" eggs hard-boiled before hearing of the recall. Perfectly safe and very tasty, too. Sadly, we were hard-boiled out after that so, being runny yolk people, the rest had to go.

        2. Oh darn! This outbreak comes right before I was going to start making some ice cream using Ben & Jerry's recipes from their book this weekend. They don't cook their eggs. Now I'm nervous about it.

          Is there such a thing as liquid pasturized whole egg that I can buy in the supermarket? Or get some of the pasturized whole eggs? I don't think I've ever seen either of these items for sale.

          Do these products act the same in an ice cream recipe?

          9 Replies
          1. re: heidip732

            Yes, you can buy pasteurized eggs in the shell. There's only one supplier, though, as the pasteurization process is patented:

            http://www.safeeggs.com/

            The brand name is Davidson's. There's a store search engine on the site.

            No clue on how they'd be in ice cream, though.

            1. re: romansperson

              Thanks, I checked them out. They aren't distributed in NJ yet. I guess I'll just have to cook my custard for now to stay safe. Too bad for lazy me who wants easy ice cream, fast!

            2. re: heidip732

              I'm confused...why would you rather buy pasturised eggs when you could buy local, free-range organic eggs?! The article specifically names generic mass-produced/packaged eggs, but if you bought from a local farmer, your chances of getting salmonella is very slim.

              Also, when we make ice cream, we always make a cooked custard. It takes a little while longer, but it does cook the eggs to a safe level AND it tastes better AND it has a better texture. Win, win win. I'm sure it would only improve the recipe if you cooked it as you would a custard. You can also afford to stop earlier with a thinner texture than if you were using it as a custard "sauce" so there's not as much danger of it curdling.

              1. re: guster4lovers

                You are assuming that heidip732 has ready access to "local, free-range organic" - there aren't "local" farms everywhere, and not all supermarkets offer organic eggs.

                1. re: guster4lovers

                  From what I've heard, the salmonella is carried IN the chickens, it's not something that is on the outside of the egg. And our testing in this country isn't really all that sensitive for seeing which chckens carry salmonella. So, why would free range, organic eggs be assumed to be salmonella free? Even if I knew of someone who had a small egg farm nearby (and I don't), I think that their eggs would be suspect too.

                  I have made ice cream before, and used a cooked custard. I'm very pleased with those results. So much better than store bought! But I just bought the Ben & Jerry's recipe book, and thought I would give them a try. But none of their eggs are cooked. That's what prompted my question about pasturized, liquid, whole eggs.

                  1. re: heidip732

                    The people I buy my eggs from buy hens from producers who test for salmonella.

                    1. re: pikawicca

                      That's great! There's just so much information, and it's just gotten so complicated! Who'd a thunk, I mean, it's an egg!! Jeesh!

                    2. re: heidip732

                      As pikawicca mentioned, there are small egg farms that routinely test for salmonella, which helps. Small producers also generally (though not always) have better/healthier living conditions for their hens, which means they are less likely to get salmonella in the first place since they are in a less crowded space and have more room to roam and get away from their own waste. Of course, you have to have access to a source of small farm eggs, and not everyone does.

                      1. re: mpjmph

                        I guess I'll have to check out who's at the next farmer's market in town. No real access here, as far as I know.

                2. Sadly it seems a lot of the contaminated eggs ended up in restaurants, so it's harder for consumers to know what they're getting. The health dept in the next county over just determined that a salmonella outbreak over the summer linked to the oldest restaurant in town was due Wright County eggs used in pie meringue.

                  1. The owner of the chicken farm, Jack DeCoster, seems like a real piece of work. Being a self-made man and based what I read, I get the impression that laws and ethical treatment of his workers and the chickens only get in the way of the bottom line - making money.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dave_c

                      I didn't know DeCoster owned Wright. That makes sense. There was plenty of scandal over the DeCoster egg farm in Maine.
                      http://ehstoday.com/news/ehs_imp_35567/
                      http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unlea...
                      http://www.mercyforanimals.org/maine-...

                      1. re: greygarious

                        The LA times article reminds me why we only buy free-range. Five hens in that cage is wrong. I don't care if it is better than the legal minimum...it's still animal abuse.

                        1. re: guster4lovers

                          The reason for the outbreak being traced to restaurants is, probably, commercial kitchens use more raw egg products than consumers. As long as you cook your eggs there is almost no risk.
                          My problem with factory produced eggs is the growing conditions, 3 tier racks of laying cages, hens jammed into the cage barely able to move; and, if I am a hen how do I say "Give me a cage on the top tier", life on the other lower rows isn't too pleasant with your upstairs neighbor pooping on you. Not to mention the ease of spreading pathogens etc. in such concentrated living conditions.
                          I hunt, fish and eat what I harvest, so PETA does not reside here; but there is ethical treatment and horrible treatment of farm/food animals; I try and support local growers of bee, pork and poultry when it is available. Eggs are always free range/organic from a farmer where I can see how he produces his eggs.

                      2. re: dave_c

                        There was an article in today's paper about DeCoster's legal battles in Maryland when he had an egg facility there in the 1990's . Interesting tale of conflicting regulations/jurisdictions.

                        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...

                      3. The recall is now a half billion eggs? That is a lot of eggs. "Laid" end to end, about 19,000 miles. The declared culprit is mouse (spelled R-A-T) shit in the chicken feed. What's next? The only visible motions by the Dept.of Agriculture is cashing their paychecks. The department should be dismantled so that consumers no longer have a false sense that someone somewhere is looking out for their welfare.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          What's next???.....Back to the farm!!!! Small scale and sustainable, not millions of chickens/steers/ hogs in confined areas producing huge ponds of thousands of gallons of sewage that in its concentrated form pollutes and poisons the air, land and water. Cheap food is n ot the answer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          1. re: ospreycove

                            I notice and admire your posts. Most people cannot afford anything other than cheap food.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Veggo......Yes you are right affordabllity is the issue; If you look at how different people budget, in Italy for example, consumers spend a greater % of their income on food. This could be the result of simplier housing, less fixed expense on maintainence, etc., or the fact that the Italians are "food obsessed", and place a higher value on good, i.e. wholesome food than we in the U.S. do. From what I have seen in Italy, barring the cell phone, that even new borns seem to have(!!), there are few other electronic gadgets, games, pads,........The answer might lie somewhere in between growing our own food and being selective in what we eat, how much we eat, cancel the soft drinks every minute of the day, shifting to less processed cheap food, and substituting more dry beans, grains, fresh veg, etc. Well, I am no expert on the
                              economics/demographics/marketing of food, but, in my opinion there is something wrong with our attitude and the industry's delivery of food.

                          2. re: Veggo

                            Why blame the USDA for this?
                            There are published guidelines for the farms.
                            The farms should have practices in place to prevent this.

                            It's like blaming BMW for a drunk driver crashing his car.

                            1. re: dave_c

                              One egg producer in Iowa, a large one, appears to have a seamless record of violations.
                              I can't tell what the USDA has done in the last month, beyond offering Ms. Sherrod a new job at twice the pay.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                As you are well aware, the USDA's main function is to advance the interests of American agriculture. They only care about the consumer when they are forced to. And Congress is in the same bed, and will not pass needed legislation to correct the dreadful lack of food safety oversight in this country. There is a bill pending, but it's not going anywhere.

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Sadly, because there is no funding available. If there is a single positive take-away from the BP fiasco, it would be corporate recognition that the consequences of not self-policing can be catastrophic to balance sheets and careers.
                                  I like Rmis32's egg toss idea, also....

                            2. re: Veggo

                              Perhaps, instead of making gov't responsible for safe eggs, the egg producers should be made responsible. The penalty for allowing tainted eggs to reach consumers? Producers are to be pelted with every one of the recalled eggs. It wouldn't happen a 2nd time.

                            3. Since I was thinking about making royal icing last weekend, when I was at the store I asked about the eggs and what brands. They let me read their communication from their corporate office. I don't know if it is true or not but it read that the eggs were only the ones packed in the large flat crate like cartons, not the 12 or 18 egg carton. Still not feeling convinvced, I bought the boxed stuff at Michaels, a carton of pastuerized egg whites, and some meringue powder. I ended up not using any of them. What a turn off. I love and do use raw eggs in salad dressings (love my salmon ceasar salads!) or herb mayonnaises and also whipped merinques. I love my scrambled eggs soft and creamy, but who wants to risk salmonella?
                              Not me. Darn them!

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Gradually, the art of cooking is evolving into the art of pathogen killing. A half billion eggs can support a salmonella population that dwarfs the planet's human population.

                                 
                                1. re: Rmis32

                                  No. I expect food producers to provide me with clean product. I sho0uldn't have to disinfect their goofs.

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    No, you should not have to, but, increasingly, it is becoming necessary. A post from last year "Leave the “kill step” up to the consumer" reveals that "ConAgra — which sold more than 100 million pot pies last year under its popular Banquet label — decided to make the consumer responsible for the kill step. The “food safety” instructions and four-step diagram on the 69-cent pies offer this guidance: “Internal temperature needs to reach 165° F as measured by a food thermometer in several spots.”"
                                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6199...

                                    1. re: Rmis32

                                      Now, that kind of responsibility-shirking bothers me more than the egg recall, which I regard as overkill. They are cooking the filling and should be responsible for assuring that safe temperatures are maintained during its preparation and cooling/packing-freezing. As far as the eggs go, since cooking would kill any salmonella that the eggs might have (1 in 20,000 are thought to be tainted), I would have thought a caution not to use them raw or undercooked would have sufficed, similar to the warnings printed on menus of restaurants offering rare meat. Since the USDA is by its own admission concerned with protecting the manufacturers as well as the public, I am a little surprised that recalls have come to be as extensive as they are. Several months ago a main pipe in the metro Boston water supply ruptured and for days people were cautioned not to drink tap water although no contamination was found. The message that it would be safe if boiled for 10 minutes was completely buried by news coverage of water trucks distributing to residents, and the thousands of cases of bottled water being handed out. This entailed far more expense than the situation justified. The worst-case scenario has become the official default position.

                                2. re: chef chicklet

                                  Chef Chicklet.......Sorry to hijack the thread,but I would LOVE your Salmon ceasar salad recipe!!!!

                                3. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/bus...

                                  Back when I was raising chickens, it cost just a few pennies per chick to get them vaccinated. That was less than 10 years ago, and that was the cost to people buying a couple dozen chicks at a time. It would have been around a penny per bird for large producers.

                                  There's a simple way to stop Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy too.

                                  Stop feeding ground up dead cows to live cows!

                                  1. For $0.14 per chicken, they could vaccinate her against this whole thing happening, and she will lay 275 eggs in her lifetime. This is so inflammatory I can't stand it.

                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/bus...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: pitterpatter

                                      Arizona's largest/only commercial egg producer - Hickman's - vaccinates their birds and also runs all eggs through a UV radiation "bath" to disinfect shells, among other steps. They also compost litter and shells into garden fertilizer.

                                      http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_...

                                    2. Today all the news is about the fact that recalled eggs will be diverted to factories where they make ice cream, mayo etc. Those plants will pasteurize them before use. The talking head experts are assuring the public that pasteurization will make the eggs safe, and they are absolutely right. However, when asked if they are safe to cook at home, the heads say no.

                                      Balderdash. This event could have been a real boon for the sale of deviled eggs cookbooks. Hard boiled eggs are perfectly safe. Folks do not have to take the affected eggs back.

                                      There could be a deviled egg boom, a new appreciation of this classic item. Those who are planning big picnics, or church suppers, could take several approaches to score cases of eggs: post a Craigslist of "I'll take your eggs!"; start a phone tree to call with same message; or, for the most ballsy and brazen of egg boilers, take a table and empty boxes to the entrance of the grocery store, with a large sign saying "Egg Recall Here".

                                      Such an approach could save millions that will squandered on the logistics of the recall. Throw a deviled egg party, America.

                                      More serious note from the news today: Wholesale price of eggs is up 40 percent. Also increased uproar about modifying antiquated food laws to give more power and penalties for enforcement. At present, the Ohio egg baron culprit can not be required, under current law, to effect a recall.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: FoodFuser

                                        I probably make pasta carbonara 5-6 times a year, usually if I have bacon that is getting old. Sometimes it's with a local farm's egg, others supermarket. Maybe one of those times I'll get cramps and runs afterwards, but that could as well be the bacon as the raw egg. I am in the camp that thinks an occasional gastrointestinal challenge helps maintain a healthy immune system. I did not check the lot numbers on my supermarket eggs, none of which were consumed uncooked. It is always recommended that very young, old, or immune-compromised people should avoid raw eggs. For the rest of us, the consequences are usually trivial.

                                        1. re: FoodFuser

                                          Great post (and use of the fabulous word balderdash). I am totally behind a deviled egg trend, too! YUM!

                                        2. According to the report I heard on this, the tainted eggs date back to April, which means that many (most?) were consumed long before the discovery/announcement. Though I believe that some outbreaks are unavoidable and unpredictable, it sounds like at least one of the egg producers in this case had a long history of safety violations that were left largely unaddressed. Thankfully, our local grocery store did not use these producers, so we seem to be safe, and I've not heard of a single local case of salmonella.
                                          Maybe Vilsack should reconsider his reconsideration of resignation. Sadly, the media seems more concerned about the political trappings of bureaucracy (i.e., Sherrod ) than what seems to me the basic mission of the USDA.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Mestralle

                                            As a consumer you can do more for your food security by being proactive, alert, and involved in your food production. Seek out small, quality producers, grow more yourself, eat more dried beans/grains,(organic, this will stretch your food $$$), forget the convenience, fast, and processed foods, soft drinks, etc. Do not assume the Government will protect you.....It Cannot!!!!!!!!!

                                          2. Can somebody help me out a bit here?

                                            I thought that one was supposed to thoroughly cook eggs, right?

                                            Doesn't cooking thoroughly kill the salmonella? So now I'm a bit confused about the panic.

                                            Though I do appreciate the announcement as one of my favourite drinks involves a raw egg, sugar, cinnamon, and milk or cream in a blender. Do more people than I realize enjoy raw eggs? I always get a squeamish reaction when I mention it so I assumed it was fairly uncommon.

                                            What (probably obvious) detail am I missing here? Is it an issue where many people enjoy soft-cooked eggs which don't get to the right temperature to kill the salmonella? Do some dishes inherently not get hot enough for a long enough time?

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: Popkin

                                              Does anyone know how firm the yolk and white will be when an egg reaches the temp that will kill salmonella? As mentioned a few posts upthread, I have had occasional G-I symptoms that MAY have come from raw egg but were very minor. The proportion of eggs consumed raw must be very small in comparison to cooked eggs. The recall was not mandatory but was probably issued to minimize legal liability. Surely most of the affected eggs were eaten without problems.

                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                Some details of the conditions in the Wright and Hillandale henhouses: http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/08...

                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                  I thought ESAD (eat sh*t and die) was a only a curse expressed by one's enemies. Now I see it may be a hazard encountered in taking our daily meals.

                                                  1. re: Rmis32

                                                    Well then you definitely don't want to know anything about how chickens are slaughtered. Does "fecal soup" ring any bells?

                                              2. re: Popkin

                                                There is still a risk when cooking potentially effected eggs for a runny yolk. I suppose it doesn't reach the ideal temperature yet. We hard-boiled and ate eggs which were included in the recall with no problems whatsoever. I use the method of starting with eggs in cold water (2" above eggs), bringing just to a boil, turning off the burner, and allowing them to cook for 15 minutes in the residual heat before cooling and eating/storing. I assume, from our non-reaction, this was plenty to kill whatever funk was in there.

                                                1. re: mangetoutoc

                                                  Remember in the "local Taverns" you could get a draft beer eith a raw egg cracked in it, very macho, one does not see that too much anymore...not P.C.?
                                                  How about steak tartare with a raw egg in the middle of the raw beef............

                                                2. re: Popkin

                                                  Cookie dough.

                                                3. Fed up? Consumer's Union asks you to send a message to Congress
                                                  https://secure.consumersunion.org/sit...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Rmis32

                                                    Backlash........Grow your own, support small local ag. Pay more and get quality, wholsome food. Backyard chickens, rabbits, gardens,there are many ways to fight back and enjoy your food, better taste!!!!!

                                                  2. I liked Jon Stewart's comment (or was it Steven Colbert?) on all this - "half a billion eggs recalled! I'd hate to be the guy who has to put those back in the chicken!"

                                                    1. Cleaning the Henhouse

                                                      Industrial operations — essentially factories of meat and eggs — excel at manufacturing cheap food for the supermarket. But there is evidence that this model is economically viable only because it passes on health costs to the public ...
                                                      read more- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/02/opi...

                                                      1. Questions & answers about salmonella & eggs.
                                                        "Fried, Scrambled, Infected"
                                                        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/wee...