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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

CDC Breaks some news on Wright and Hillandale Salmonella Egg Outbreak

Good Saturday from New Zealand.  This just dropped into my inbox from the CDC:

cracked-egg.jpg• From May 1 to August 31, 2010, approximately 1,519 illnesses were reported that are likely to be associated with this outbreak.

• FDA identified Salmonella with PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the outbreak strain in egg farm environmental samples.

• Don’t eat recalled eggs. Recalled eggs might still be in grocery stores, restaurants, and consumers’ homes. Consumers who have recalled eggs should discard them or return them to their retailer for a refund. (see searchable database of products affected by the recall is available to consumers).

• FDA is nearing completion of initial investigations at both of these firms in Iowa. The investigations involve sampling, records review and looking for potential sources of contamination, such as feed. FDA’s inspectional observations, in addition to sample results, indicate substantial potential for Salmonella to have persisted in the environment and to have contaminated eggs (see 483 Inspectional Observations on the Egg Recall).

• Individuals who think they might have become ill from eating recalled eggs should consult their health care providers.

CDC Epi Curve

  • The source of the Bullock’s Bar-B-Que salmonella enteritidis (SE) outbreak in late April & early May was PASTEURIZED EGG WHITES not shell eggs. Laboratory tests have confirmed that the vehicle was a frozen pasteurized egg white product that is usually produced in 50,000 carton lots by an international processor as a house brand for a major purveyor that distributes nationally. Lab tests have also shown that SE is the same as was found at Wright County Egg; therefore, the recall of only shell eggs doesn’t include all products clearly implicated
    Also, the 7-14-10 interim combined report of the agencies in NC investigating the Bullock’s outbreak states, “Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing in the national PulseNet system showed patients with indistinguishable PFGE patterns in Ohio and North Carolina in restaurants where the epidemiologically implicated food vehicle involved a common ingredient (commercially distributed pasteurized egg whites) sold by the same restaurant supplier, and manufactured in the same plant.” Subsequent secondary enzyme analysis revealed they involved DIFFERENT strains of SE; so, it appears that there were 2 cases of SE contamination NOT eliminated by pasteurization.
    As pasteurized egg whites are a FROZEN product, they have a long shelf life. Thus, there is still a clear possibility of additional related outbreaks yet neither the CDC nor the FDA has included this information in their briefings, etc.
    Furthermore, the CDC recommends pasteurization for SE contaminated eggs and the FDA permit pasteurized contaminated eggs to enter into commerce. Thus, the implicated egg whites question the wisdom of this policy and the assurance of the American people that there is no need for concern about there being any additional problems because all of the eggs are now being pasteurized.
    That brings us back to my long standing complaint that the FDA’s performance continues to be sub par and neither it nor those of its employees who are responsible for the poor work are being held accountable. The Wright County Egg fiasco shows the opposite of what the supporters of S 510 would have us believe. It was NOT caused by the “lack of authorities” Commissioner Hamburg cited. Rather, the Wright County Egg recall was caused by the failure of the FDA to do its job.