There has been yet another incident involving a large-scale product recall of eggs in the United States due to suspected salmonella. This latest incident follows a spat of separate food related recalls involving salmonella contamination.
Through what was described as an abundance in caution, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has indicated that Rose Acre Farms has voluntarily recalled over two hundred and seven million eggs due to potential contamination with Salmonella Braenderu. According to the FDA, the particular strain of salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. On Friday, the FDA indicated at least 22 illnesses have been reported thus far.
The eggs were distributed and potentially consumed in over eight U.S. states primarily located in U.S. east coast regions in both retail channels involving Food Lion retail stores, and restaurant distribution involving the Waffle House restaurant chain.
Branded names of eggs involved in this recall are noted as:
U.S. consumers who have purchased the subject shell eggs are urged to immediately discontinue use of the recalled eggs and to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund.
Readers desiring additional information can reference a dedicated FDA web page providing specific information.
The FDA notes that the origins of the contaminated eggs have been traced to a farm facility located in Hyde County, North Carolina. This farm produces upwards of 2.3 million eggs a day and includes 3 million laying hens with a USDA inspector on-site. According to reports, Rose Acre Farms is a family-owned company headquartered in Seymour, Indiana and operates 17 facilities in eight states.
In incidents such as these, the FDA conducts a thorough investigation and rigorous follow-up inspections prior to clearing a facility for resumed operations. However, the damage to brands and to consumer confidence in such brands and in safe food is another matter.
Our food industry readers will likely recall a 2010 recall involving upwards of 500 million eggs. Two Iowa based farms associated with DeCoster Farms, voluntarily recalled millions of shell eggs because of the potential for Salmonella Enteritidis contamination. The eggs in question were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers, supermarkets, and foodservice companies across eight U.S. states. Eggs are an essential ingredient in multiple food related products and hence such large recall incidents have the potential for wider-scale food implications.
That 2010 incident eventually led to executives Austin DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, each pleading guilty to one count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, being each fined $7 million and serving three months in jail.
The year 2010 also involved a spate of other product recalls involving salmonella contamination. At the time, Supply Chain Matters suspected that the outbreaks may have been related to post 2008-2009 financial crisis industry-wide cost reduction cutbacks that might have compromised food quality practices.
The Washington Post and some other news outlets have already begun to link this latest incident with a prior mandatory recall of kratom products manufactured by Las Vegas-based Triangle Pharmanaturals, a salmonella outbreak that involved International Harvest Inc., based in Mount Vernon, N.Y. that involved raw coconut, and a February incident involving Triple T Specialty Meats, based in Ackley, Iowa, that resulted in the recall of more than 20,000 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salad products that may have been contaminated with salmonella. The latter outbreak resulted in 265 illnesses in eight states and one reported death.
Whether this is yet another disturbing series of incidents involving a salmonella contamination trend remains to be seen but the industry stress signs seem all too familiar. Previous incidents led to calls for the FDA and the food industry to step-up its inspection and remediation processes to insure a safer supply of food products. In this latest case, there may be other factors to be investigated in the weeks to come.
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