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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

I am glad to have my own nine chickens

Screen Shot 2012-03-20 at 8.05.57 PM.pngIn the last month the “girls” have been producing 8-9 eggs a day. They add up quickly and my neighbors are enjoying the extras. So I was thankful for our eggs this evening when today the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) recommended against eating any eggs produced by Daizen Farms of nearby Burlington, Washington. Hens that ate feed contaminated with rodent droppings apparently produced the eggs. Laboratory testing confirms that the feed contained Salmonella. In addition, the eggs were also packaged under insanitary conditions on the farm. WSDA inspectors observed rodent droppings inside an egg-washing machine during use.

Daizen Farm eggs are sold in 15-dozen flats and one-dozen consumer cartons. None of the egg packages contain any date. The WSDA warning applies to all eggs produced by Daizen Farms currently in food establishments or private homes. The one-dozen egg consumer cartons are labeled with the Daizen branding. These consumer cartons are most frequently sold to customers directly from the farm. The boxes containing the 15-dozen egg flats are not marked with any branding or other identifying information, a violation of state labeling requirements. The boxes are most frequently sold to independent Asian grocery stores and restaurants in Skagit, Snohomish, and King Counties.

To date, public health officials have linked no human illnesses to the eggs. Consumers are reminded to thoroughly cook all eggs, regardless of source, to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

So much for locally grown, small agirculture:

  • Chris Anderson

    It’s quaint and ideal that you and many others raise your own backyard chickens. Very “Martha Stewart” nowadays. I, too, enjoyed that hobby as a kid.
    However, on what basis, are you conferring enhanced food safety to your backyard flock vs. those of commercial producers? Simply because they’re in your backyard? Simply because you can see them with your own eyes? I wouldn’t disregard direct observation as a good means to verify the reduction or elimination of certain hazards (e.g. – physical?), but not when it comes to microbiology. The Salmonella serotypes harbored by poultry, which make humans ill, do NOT for the most part cause illness in chickens or turkeys (key fact). They’re practically “commensal”. You would not observe clinical signs of illness in a flock of chickens infected with S.E., heidelberg, hadar etc.,
    - have you dragged swabbed your chicken coop, and tested for the presence/absence of Salmonella species?
    - if you have a positive sample, have you sent it to one of only 3 labs in the U.S. that will/can serotype Salmonella (key fact)
    - if your flock tests (+), what are your plans to reduce or eliminate the hazard?
    - what is your current rodent control program? Can you verify that your backyard chickens have had no contact with rodents of any kind?
    - do you have an egg sanitizing program for the eggs produced by the 9 hens? What sanitizer, water temperatures, do you use?
    If you don’t have any sampling data, you might very well be bringing eggs into your home that are contaminated with Salmonella. Your good food safety practices in the kitchen (I assume you’d never eat Caesars salad made with raw egg!) have potentially spared you and your family from illness. Cooking to 165 degrees is probably second nature to you. Eschewing raw egg dishes is probably second nature to you. Keeping your hands clean between food ingredients, to avoid cross contamination, is probably second nature to you.
    I’m not trying to squelch the joy of raising backyard poultry – I loved my 4H flock of chickens as a kid. But, that said, sometimes ignorance is bliss…and before throwing stones at this commercial (wayward) producer, you should have data to confer enhanced food safety to your own flock.
    Just sayin’….

  • http://www.marlerclark.com/wmarler.htm Bill Marler

    Chris, of course you are correct. We treat our chickens and eggs like they are contaminated.

  • Paul F Schwarz

    Sounds like Chris was counting his chickens before……please finish this!
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3

  • Steve

    I wonder how many people have ever tasted the Real Thing? That’s all it takes to never eat another of those factory farmed, pale, runny industrial versions from medicated birds cramped and caged in fetid ammoniated atmospheres –
    Yes, handle carefully and cook completely — then ENJOY a Real Egg — Bon Appetit!

  • Stella

    If you research it. Salmonella lives on the OUTSIDE of the egg. If you clean your eggs and scald them for 5 seconds under hot water you eliminate most if not all chance of it being contaminated. I get my eggs from a person not a store. They come just as they were in the coop, Dirty. I soak them in water with antibacterial soap, wash then scald them.

  • http://www.marlerclark.com/wmarler.htm Bill Marler

    Stella, I wish it were that simple:
    http://news.discovery.com/human/egg-salmonella-bacteria.html
    Salmonella can be on the inside of the egg.

  • Lotus Lady

    How can you even consider a farm which has 40,000 chickens that live in cages the same as your dozen hens in your back yard. Wow. It isn’t even close to the same thing. I wouldn’t call the Daizen farm “small”. It may be locally grown, but it is definitely not small.
    The “girls” in your back yard are much healthier because they are allowed to run free (I am assuming here, as most urban and suburban chickens do run free).
    But giving or selling extras to the neighbors. I don’t know. Sounds like you might be breaking some laws to me. Maybe not in Washington State, but the feds might crack down on you.
    BTW, I grew up on a farm with 20,000 chickens in cages. I’ve been there, I know what it is like.

  • Erin

    I agree with Lotus Lady and Chris.

  • chris anderson

    Stella – Bill (and I) are both correct…and you’re sorta correct, some of the time. It depends on the serotype. Most serotypes of Salmonella are NOT shed from the hen directly into the egg. However, S. enterididis