Salmonella Turns Up At Egg Farms

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) just announced its first round of inspections under recently enacted egg safety rules discovered problems at 12 of the 35 large farms inspected, wrote the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP).

The problems, many of which concerned how the companies managed their records, called for corrective action. The report also found that four percent of environmental samples taken from the farms tested positive for the dangerous, sometimes deadly, <"">Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), added CIDRAP, which noted that all of the positive Salmonella tests were from one company’s farm, which has, since, taken corrective action, said the FDA.

In 2010, the FDA published guidance for small egg producers to help them comply with a 2009 federal egg safety regulation designed to prevent Salmonella Enteritidis in shell eggs during production, transportation, and storage. The regulation is part of a coordinated strategy between the FDA and the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to help ensure egg safety and prevent <"">food poisoning. The regulation affects all egg producers with 3,000 or more laying hens who do not sell all of their shell eggs directly to consumers. Producers with fewer than 3,000 laying hens are exempt from the requirements. Producers with 50,000 or more laying hens were to be in compliance by July 2010; producers with at least 3,000 but fewer than 50,000 laying hens must comply by July 2012.

CIDRAP noted that producers with 50,000 or more layers accounts for some 80 percent of the egg production in the United States; firms in the smaller category are exempt from the rules if they use pasteurization or other processes to minimize pathogens.

The FDA said it will be inspecting the 600 farms subject to the rules by January 2012 and chose 35 farms connected to prior outbreaks or had poor compliance records, said CIDRAP. Those 35 consisted of nine companies in Ohio, Maine, Pennsylvania, Washington, South Carolina, and Utah, added CIDRAP.

Three to five inspectors visited each farm, according to the FDA report, which explained that 1,796 environmental samples were taken; 76 tested positive and all 76 came from one company, said CIDRAP. The report indicated that 12 of the 35 were classified as “voluntary action needed,” 11 were classified as not needing action, and 12 are pending classification, said CIDRAP.

Although most citations involved record-keeping problems, other issues were noted such as a failure to control rodent activity, failure to prevent stray animals from entering poultry houses, failure to maintain eggs at appropriate temperatures, and failure to maintain practices that prevent cross contamination, said CIDRAP, which said that the findings will be posted online according to FDA spokesman Sebastian Cianci who spoke with CIDRAP News

The Salmonella pathogen can cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections in young children, frail, or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with Salmonella often experience food poisoning symptoms that include fever, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), nausea, Vomiting, and Abdominal Cramps. Infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe Symptoms of Salmonella Poisoning such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis. Salmonellosis, the disease caused by the Salmonella bacteria, can last four to seven days, said the CDC. Some 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported annually in the U.S.

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