The Egg Crisis: What You Need to Know

by in Food News, August 27, 2010


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. tammt says:

    If you buy store brand eggs how do you know who packaged them, how do i know if i'm safe

  2. telia says:

    what I would like ti know how does it affect the folks in Brooklyn?

  3. Blah says:

    This is great info! Thanks!
    An guys, before complaining about how you want runny eggs and what to eat the batter, you can do that by checking the brand of the eggs. The recalled ones are above. If the brand you use is not up there, than you can have runny eggs and eat the batter. But if you want to be safer and cautious about Salmonella, than dont do these things.
    I hope my info helps!

  4. Andrew says:

    So far no store I go to has any of the recalled eggs. I never eat my eggs runny, only eat scrambled when I do eat them.

  5. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to go back the desire?.I’m attempting to to find things to improve my site!I guess its good enough to use a few of your ideas!!

  6. Tammy says:

    very well stated

  7. Debora says:

    Not true. Eggs could only potentially become a chicken if they are fertilized by a male, and so the chickens that lay the eggs we eat are no where near a rooster!!

    I think I understand the Vegan who won't eat eggs or milk because of their perceived inhumane treatment of the animals. On some farms, cows and chickens are given drugs to produce more milk and bigger eggs, and cows are sometimes kept in small stalls and milked constantly by machines..they are not the cows you see along side the road when you're traveling!

    I agree that the treatment can be inhumane, but to me the important part of the word "inhumane" is the "human" part…they are not people, they are animals, and very tasty ones at that!

  8. Amanda says:

    The eggs we eat are unfertilized which mean they would NEVER become a chicken… A bird laying an egg is no different than a woman ovulating. Without fertilization there can be not be a chick or a baby.

  9. Mike says:

    First of all, they are not embryos because there is no rooster around!
    The only way an egg becomes fertile is if a male rooster is around, otherwise, the egg is just an egg, no life would or could enter that egg!!!

  10. Shelly says:

    I wholeheartedly AGREE!

  11. Rin says:

    I agree that some vegans do have extreme reasons for believing that the consumption of eggs is unethical. However, there are some very valid reasons for people think that the majority of the egg industry is inhumane. The biggest problem is that most hens used for large scale egg production are confined to incredibly small cages and live in crowded, unsanitary conditions. Many egg producers also slice or saw off the beaks of hens to prevent them from pecking at each other in the crowed spaces.

    Here is an article released by the HSUS that explains various egg carton labels and what conditions are allowed under those labels:

  12. Susan says:

    Hi,,,,take a good look at how these egg laying chickens live and then go out and buy some free range eggs and feel good about it.
    The chickens that layed those contaminated eggs are confined in horrific cages,,,,thousands of flys and filth. They can hardly move and some have to have their beaks sawed so that they dont peck the other chickens to death out of frustration.
    So buy free range and/or organic and you wont have a problem

  13. Laura says:

    I agree with Debora. As the eggs we eat are only potential chickens, then to refuse to eat them on some sort of moral choice is equivalent of keeping myself pregnant because I refuse to menstruate and waste that one potential ovum. Sorry for the graphic, just trying to draw a parallel. Of course, chickens and human beings are different, but I think refusing to eat eggs on that principle alone is pretty silly (speaking as a former vegetarian here). I do understand people being opposed to the treatment of most larger, high-density specialty farm animals.

  14. Joan says:

    My advice to all of you egg addicts, is to buy organic or buy from a local farm that only gives grain feed to their chickens. It's worth it. Otherwise, all other food that's not organic, will eventually kill you or give you cancer.

  15. Jessica F says:

    Laura, while I agree to most of what you said, to say it is "pretty silly"? Everyone has their own eating habits and beliefs and in my opinion none of them are silly or stupid. People have the right to choose what they want to put in their bodies. I am not a vegan by any means but I have the utmost respect the choices they choose to make. Their reasons are not of important to me or need to be critiqued. Just as your choice to be a former vegetarian is yours.

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