The Egg Crisis: What You Need to Know

by in Food News, August 27, 2010

eggs

As of this week, half a billion eggs were recalled, making this the biggest egg recall in recent history. Three hundred salmonella-related illnesses have been reported around the country. But don’t panic — we’ve got the facts! Here’s what you need to know about salmonella, plus egg-handling tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Growing Recalls
For the past week or so, recalls have grown to more than 550 million eggs that were distributed to 22 states. Over 300 salmonella-related cases have been reported, and the FDA and CDC are trying to pinpoint the actual source (not as easy as it seems).

Are My Eggs Safe?
Check the carton in your fridge to make sure you’re not at risk for salmonella. The recalled eggs are packaged under the following  brand names:

  • Albertson
  • Boomsma’s
  • Dutch Farms
  • Farm Fresh
  • Hillandale
  • Kemps
  • Lucerne
  • Lund
  • Mountain Dairy
  • Ralph’s
  • Shoreland
  • Sunshine
  • Trafficanda

To check if the eggs you bought have been recalled,use the FDA’s handy recalled products tool. Just enter in your carton’s plant name, UPC code, plant number or Julian date and see if your eggs are affected. Unsure about where to find the dates and codes on the carton? Use this visual egg carton guide to help out.

Salmonella: How It Spreads
Many times it’s the farm animals, like chickens, that carry the salmonella bacteria. If you consume even a small amount, it can make you ill. How severe the symptoms depend on the amount of the bacteria you ate and how strong your immune system is. Those with compromised immune systems, like the very young and very old, can be affected more seriously.

Signs and Symptoms
Signs that you’re infected with salmonella include fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea, which usually begin 12 to 72 hours after eating the affected food or drink. The illness usually lasts between 4 to 7 days, but the severity of the illness can vary.

Keeping Safe

Here are some basic egg tips to follow:

  • Don’t eat recalled eggs: With such a vast amount of eggs recalled, unfortunately some may still be lurking on store shelves. You can return recalled eggs for a full refund or discard them.
  • Keep refrigerated: cold temperatures under 45° F help control the growth of the bacteria. Store eggs in the coldest part of your fridge (not the door) to keep bacteria at bay.
  • Discard cracked or dirty eggs.
  • Wash hands, counters & utensils: Always wash your hands properly after handling raw eggs. Don’t forget to wash any surface or utensil that comes in contact with the raw eggs.
  • Cook thoroughly: Avoid runny or sunny-side up eggs. Cook eggs thoroughly, until the white and the yolk are firm.
  • Don’t leave out leftovers: Leftover eggs should be refrigerated immediately. This includes dishes that were cooked using eggs, like egg salad, quiche, flan and foods with batters (like pancakes or breaded items). Cooked egg dishes left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours should be discarded.
  • Avoid eating raw eggs: This includes licking up raw batters for cakes and cookies.

If you think you’ve become ill by eating recalled eggs, contact your physician.

TELL US: What questions do you have about the egg recall?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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Comments (27)

  1. Jane says:

    LWhat a great information bit. Thanks soooo much for this most inportant and well written article.

  2. MIchele says:

    I am tired of all the vegans posting that we are deserving of this since we eat eggs. I want to remind all of us that eggs are a great source of protein and viamins and essential in cooking and can be eaten healthy.

  3. Michael says:

    Indeed Michele. I dont eat it unless it had parents!!!

  4. SouthernAtHeart says:

    I'm a vegan and please don't classify us as one evil group. This recall is most unfortunate and in the end these companies should hold higher standards.

  5. Tammy says:

    I agree Southern…not all vegans feel the same but for the radicals…maybe someone should remind them that fruits and veggies can carry some pretty awful food diseases as well… (just sayin) hasnt anyone learned anything about tolerance…hello… now we want to criticize someone for what they eat?? too much… but anyways… I do happen to feel that eggs can be a vital part of a good diet (foods educator here) but there are other options as well. this outbreak like ALL others can be avoided and limited by using the proper care which is the responsibility of ALL from the farm to the table!!! thanks food network for good solid info!!!

  6. Tammy says:

    yeah southern and adam… wish i could give you both two thumbs up!

  7. Row says:

    May I remind everyone of the spinach recall a while back? Vegan or not, we all are at some risk of food borne illnesses..

  8. Shelly says:

    Most of the egg safety tips are good common sense. BUT, "cook until whites AND YOLK are firm"????? I have been eating eggs with a lovely runny yolk for over 50 years now. And licking batters with raw eggs in them and eating home made mayo. Keep 'em cold, keep 'em clean, watch the expiration date and ENJOY them in a variety of ways. Eggs are an inexpensive and tasty protein/food!

    • Inez says:

      They are telling us to look at the carton for the company UPC numbers and name etc, don't know about anyone else but I have been taking my eggs out of the carton now for OHHHHH 50+ years so I have no way to know what all the numbers are. We love our eggs over easy and it is too bad that now the public can't even eat an egg or spinach or green onions or what ever will be next because the producers are filthy and only interested in money.

  9. Adam says:

    I follow a vegan diet also and would never ever wish sickness upon anyone because they don’t follow the same choice. It’s a terrible situation that unfortunately is all too common when it comes to our food industry today. But I thank Food Network for providing this helpful information.

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