Food & Drink

Egg salmonella outbreak update: 12 more sick, but it should be ending in the U.S.

TNS file

Most coverage on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's update on the egg salmonella outbreak focused on the addition of 12 sick people since the CDC's last update, bringing the national total to 35 in nine states.

Here's what that focus misses:

The outbreak that prompted a recall of 206 million eggs should be all but over in the United States, though five states have been added to the outbreak list since the April 16 update. Florida's number of sick remains at two. Virginia and New York each have the most sick, eight each.

The most recent sickness among the 35 people reported to the CDC was April 14, a month ago. The Best By dates on the eggs in the outbreak, which came from Rose Acre Farms Hyde County farm in North Carolina, are April 2 or April 3. No restaurant worth its license should serve such eggs. No one should serve eggs at home that far past the Best By date.

Publix eggs end.jpg
The lot number and best by date on Publix eggs in the recall Cal-Maine Foods

Note, the above paragraph says "in the United States." Some of the eggs got exported.

Some went to the Caribbean via Pompano Beach company Fresh Point South Florida. The FDA doesn't know whether Rose Acre Farms eggs were the only eggs that got sent to Caribbean consignees or were mixed in with eggs from other manufacturers.

What's known is eggs from the Hyde County farm might be in the bunch sent to the Bahamas (Abaco Groceries and The Food Store Limited); Port Au Prince, Haiti (Associated Food District); Aruba (Frasa Int L Trading); Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (Island Supply Co.); Caribe Export Puerto Rico (St. Martin); Quality Food St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands); and Sarl Chez Jojo (St. Bartts).

Eastern Quality Goods out of Ponte Vedra sent eggs to Monclova, Coahuila, Mexico. Dolphin Shipping and Trading, a Georgia company, sent eggs to Hong Kong and Dubai. C&O Food Services out of New Jersey and Salt Lake City's Parker-Migliorini International sent eggs to Hong Kong.

Rose Acre Farms was supposed to file its formal response to the FDA's inspection of the Hyde County facility by April 26. The Miami Herald asked Rose Acre Farms by phone for that formal response, but has yet to receive it.

That's the "butt-scratching" inspection report.

After several inspections between March 26 and April 11, the inspector wrote, "There were insanitary conditions and poor employee practices observed in the egg processing facility that create an environment that allows for the harborage, proliferation and spread of filth and pathogens throughout the facility that could cause the contamination of egg processing equipment and eggs."

Also, "When your monitoring indicated unacceptable rodent activity within a poultry house, appropriate methods were not used to achieve satisfactory rodent control. Specifically, a review of your pest control records from September 2017 to present indicate an ongoing rodent infestation. "

But the most memorable paragraph referenced employees touching their "intergluteal cleft" while working in the egg factory.

"Additionally, throughout the inspection several production and maintenance employees were observed touching non-food contact surfaces (i.e. face, hair, intergluteal cleft, production equipment with accumulated grime and food debris, floor, boxes, trash cans, inedible transport cans) and then touch shell eggs and food contact surfaces (i.e. buffers, rollers, etc.) without changing gloves or washing hands."