Could Hen Vaccine Have Prevented Salmonella Outbreak?

It’s possible that the massive <"">550 million-egg recall could have been largely prevented with low-cost vaccinations, said The Associated Press (AP). Although the vaccination has been available in the United States since 1992, it is not mandated in the U.S.; however, the vaccines are used in Britain, where they enjoy the safest egg supply in Europe, the AP explained.

A 2009 survey conducted by the European food safety agency revealed that about one percent of British flocks was infected with Salmonella versus 60-to-70 percent of other European flocks, said Amanda Cryer, a spokeswoman for the British Egg Information Service, wrote to the AP. The Salmonella vaccination works to prevent chickens from becoming sick with Salmonella and passing the bacteria to their eggs.

In Britain, the vaccination program is needed for producers to obtain an industry seal of approval, wrote the Wall Street Journal. In the U.S., about half of the producers vaccinate their hens, said the Journal, which noted that the New York Times wrote that officials at the FDA said there was insufficient evidence to mandate the vaccination program.

According to the Journal, the New York Times reported that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered a mandate to vaccinate hens against the pathogen under its emerging egg safety rules. The FDA rejected the vaccination program.

As of this morning, Michigan is the newest state to be affected by the historic recall, bringing the impacted states to 23, noted the Journal.

Yesterday we wrote that, according to a news release from Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat-California), the House Energy and Commerce Committee asked for information from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa, the two distributors involved in the current recall, said CNN. Waxman is the Committee’s chairman.

Waxman and fellow representative democrat, Bart Stupak (Michigan), chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, wrote to the egg producers seeking information on the contamination that appears to have originated in their locations, said CNN previously. Among the demands, the chairmen seek information as to when the firms alerted the government and consumers about the contamination, noted CNN.

The DeCoster family, owner of agribusiness firms in the Midwest and Northeast, owns Wright County and Quality Egg said CNN. Recently, Austin “Jack” DeCoster was cited for animal cruelty, said CNN.
The Des Moines Register pointed out that DeCoster, deemed an habitual violator by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for ongoing environmental problems in the 1990s, pleaded guilty in 2003 to federal immigration charges, paying a $1.25 million fine. 
DeCoster was “heavily fined” by the Labor Department for mistreating his Maine egg farm workers and, recently, agreed to pay $130,000 to settle state animal cruelty charges, said the Des Moines Register.

Salmonella bacteria can either contaminate the outside of the shell from fecal matter or infect the inside of the egg if the chicken has Salmonella poisoning, said the Des Moines Register, which also wrote that, based on the magnitude of the recall, egg prices are expected to increase, with the wholesale price of a dozen eggs up about 40 percent since news of the outbreak made headlines.

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