If someone tells you to go suck an egg, you might want to think twice about it if you live on the east coast. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that a Salmonella outbreak affecting hundreds of millions of eggs had been traced back to a farm in Hyde County, North Carolina. Public health officials have traced consumers’ illnesses in nine different states to the outbreak. Last week, the CDC released a map showing the outbreak’s spread.
Rose Acre Farms, the company responsible for the outbreak, distributes eggs all over the US, to both grocery stores and restaurants. As a result of contamination on the North Carolina farm, over 206 million eggs were exposed to Salmonella braenderup, a bacteria that causes severe diarrhea. The outbreak began in mid-April and appears to be slowing down, but in a multi-state outbreak like this, officials at the CDC may not hear about people getting sick right away. Therefore, the data on the case continues to evolve as reports roll in. The most recent numbers count 35 illnesses, 11 hospitalizations, and no deaths. Here’s a map of the outbreak’s current extent:
Rose Acre Farms sells eggs all over the U.S., but most illnesses in this outbreak occurred on the east coast.
Rose Acre Farms eggs are distributed to restaurants and grocery stores, and CDC officials report that the eggs were sold under the brand names Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, Publix, Sunshine Farms, and Sunups. All the affected eggs had “best by” dates of April 2 or 3, so at this point, unless you’re eating expired eggs, you’re probably in the clear. But if you’re concerned, check the CDC’s website for the specific labeling on the affected eggs from the North Carolina farm.
FDA inspectors who tracked down the source of the outbreak noted a number of “objectionable conditions and practices” on the North Carolina farm where the outbreak most likely started. This included the presence of rodent droppings and dead rodents in the chicken house. Additionally, FDA inspectors observed workers cross-contaminating food contact surfaces with dirty, grime-covered objects like electrical cords, trash cans, and manufacturing equipment. All in all, their report paints a picture of a facility in which some kind of disease outbreak was inevitable.
If you experience intestinal distress and suspect you may have eaten affected eggs, go to a doctor. Salmonella is not fatally dangerous in most instances, but if you’re very young, very old, or have a compromised immune system, it can be.
As a bacteria that’s responsible for about 80 percent of cases in the U.S., Salmonella’s most recent outbreak is just a drop in the food poisoning bucket, right there with kratom, chicken salad, and guinea pigs.
Photos via CDC
Photos via CDC