Salmonella Egg Producer Permitted to Ship Again, FDA Says

Wright County Egg, one of two Iowa egg producers linked to a nationwide <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/wright_county_egg_salmonella_outbreak">Salmonella outbreak earlier this year, is being allowed to resume some shipments. According to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), egg sales will be restricted initially to two of 18 barns on one of the company’s six farms.

As we’ve reported previously, Wright County Egg, along with Hillandale Farms, recalled more than half a billion eggs earlier list year due to the nationwide outbreak of Salmonella enteritidis. So far, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has received more than 1,800 reports of illnesses that may be linked to the recalled eggs.

Wright County Egg has not been permitted to ship eggs to the consumer market since August.

In October, the FDA issued a warning letter to Quality Egg LLC, parent company of Wright County Egg, which identified serious deviations from the agency’s regulation on the safety of shell eggs with respect to bio-security, rodent control and other measures. The letter said that the eggs at Quality Egg LLC were adulterated because they had been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions. The FDA warning letter, dated October 15, was based on an inspection of Quality Egg facilities that occurred between August 12 through 30, 2010. The letter directed Quality Egg owner Austin “Jack” DeCoster to take “prompt and aggressive actions” to correct the problems cited in the letter.

Now, the FDA says Wright County Egg has implemented controls to prevent recurrence of the problems that led to the Salmonella outbreak. The agency has confirmed the corrective measures and implementation of the company’s preventive controls at these two houses through on-site inspections conducted in October and November 2010. Eggs from the two houses now permitted to ship and the house environments tested negative twice by FDA for Salmonella enteritidis and tested negative once by Wright County Egg. The firm will continue to test these houses monthly for the presence of Salmonella enteritidis, the agency said.

Since October, FDA inspections of the Wright County Egg facilities have involved 13 investigators and more than 900 man hours, according to the agency. During the past six weeks at Wright County Egg, the FDA collected and analyzed 40 feed samples, 236 environmental samples and 13,900 shell eggs. Based on the totality of information, including FDA’s inspection and testing data, the agency concluded that distribution of shell eggs from these two houses is warranted.

“During the outbreak, I said that FDA would not agree to the sale of eggs to consumers from Wright County Egg until we had confidence that they could be shipped and consumed safely,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. said in a statement, “After four months of intensive work by the company and oversight, testing, and inspections by FDA, I am satisfied that time has come.”

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