Galt, IA—The month of August saw yet another food recall, this time due to a Salmonella enteritidis outbreak in eggs. The common suppliers in all the recalled eggs were Wright County Egg and its sister farm Hillandale, based here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the eggs from this farm were linked to several illnesses in Colorado, California and Minnesota. The nationwide recall affected millions of eggs packaged from May 16 through Aug. 13. Eggs affected by this recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and foodservice companies in California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. These companies distribute nationwide.

In light of the salmonella outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a new set of guidelines on egg safety to prevent this sort of problem in the future. The guidelines attempt to prevent salmonella contamination in eggs during production, storage and transportation. These guidelines include limiting visitors on the farm and in the poultry houses to prevent the spread of any bacteria or diseases. They also include practices that will protect against cross contamination when equipment is moved among poultry houses as well as when people move between poultry houses. Another important caution that farmers should take, say the guidelines, is to prevent stray poultry, wild birds, cats and other stray animals from entering the poultry houses.

According to USA Today, wholesale egg prices are up about 40% since the start of the recall, and consumers will likely see increases at the store. Larger chain stores are expected to see a drop in demand for eggs, leading to a decrease in sales because of the higher prices given the recall. However, smaller organic stores are experiencing the opposite, says the article. Smaller organic producers are seeing an estimated 3% to 5% increase in sales for eggs. This is probably because more people are led to organic/pasteurized eggs since they seem to be a safer option during the outbreak.

The Animal Welfare Approved believes so strongly that pasture-based systems lessen risk of food-borne illnesses that it recently decided to offer free consulting services to farmers that choose to start such an operation.

The recent egg recall is one of many unfortunate outbreaks that have occurred in the past few years. Thus, many people believe it is essential for FDA to implement and strictly enforce guidelines that will prevent these types of outbreaks from happening again and again. The Institute of Food Technologists released a statement reiterating its belief that the agency should establish a more comprehensive produce-tracing system.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2010 (published August 30 ahead of print)