FDA reports maggots, mice and manure at egg recall farms

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Wright county egg Food

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released reports detailing “significant deviations” from required contamination prevention practices at the two farms central to the ongoing egg recall.

The number of recalled eggs stands at around 550m, with 380m eggs recalled by Iowa-based Wright County Egg, after the operation was linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella enteriditis. The recall expanded to Hillandale Farms – another Iowa facility – a week later, which pulled a further 170m eggs from the market. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1,470 reported illnesses are likely to be associated with the outbreak.

The FDA said in a conference call with journalists on Monday that water that was used to wash eggs at Hillandale Farms had been found to be contaminated with a salmonella DNA fingerprint isolate matching the outbreak strain.

Among the agency’s other observations: “Outside access doors to manure pits were pushed out with the weight of manure, which was piled in some cases four to eight feet high”, “live and dead maggots too numerous to count”​ and “unsealed rodent holes”​.

However, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food Michael Taylor said: “We have no reason to believe that this is indicative of practices throughout the industry.”

It is still unclear to what extent food manufacturers will be affected by the recall, considering that eggs and egg products used in processed foods are required to be pasteurized, a recognized kill step for salmonella.

However, Taylor said: “Any firm should pay attention to the source of supply of their product and they should understand how it needs to be handled to produce a safe product for consumers, so if they are sourcing eggs and incorporating them in processed food products they absolutely should be sure they are processing them as processed food ingredients.”

The FDA said that it will now carry out inspections of another 600 egg producing facilities under its new egg rule, which came into force in July.

The rule requires egg producers to refrigerate eggs during storage and transportation; implement pest control measures; buy chicks and young hens from suppliers that monitor for salmonella; test hens and eggs for the bacteria; and clean and disinfect poultry houses that have tested positive.

However, the rule will not affect producers with fewer than 3,000 hens, or those that submit their eggs for further processing, such as pasteurization.

The inspections of Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms are the first to be conducted under the new egg rule.

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