Federal investigators say that tainted chicken feed may have been responsible for the nationwide outbreak of salmonella food poisoning from eggs, which has resulted in the recall of about half a billion eggs throughout the United States.
FDA officials say that testing has revealed the presence of salmonella bacteria in feed given to chickens at two Iowa egg farms identified as sources of salmonella eggs distributed by Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. The DNA of the salmonella strain found in the feed matches that of the strain that has sickened about 2,000 people across the country and led to the massive recall.
The egg recall was announced earlier this month and includes shell eggs sold to distributors by Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms and then sold under a variety of labels, including Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Farm Fresh, Lund, Mountain Dairy and others. About 360 million eggs from Wright County Egg and 228 million from Hillandale Farms have been recalled so far.
FDA officials say that their findings indicate the feed or ingredients in the feed are a likely source of the contamination, but that the investigation is still under way. Even if the feed is identified as a source, it may not be the only source for the salmonella contamination, investigators warned.
The recall was also expanded on Thursday to include eggs sold under the Cardenas Market label in cartons with a plant number of 1026 and Julian dates between 136 and 228. The expansion also includes Trafficanda Egg Ranch eggs with plant numbers 1026, 1413, 1720, 1942 and 1946 with Julian dates between 136 and 229.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing mild to severe food poisoning. For most healthy adults, symptoms of food poisoning from salmonella typically resolve after a few days or weeks. However, young children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of suffering severe food poisoning after ingesting the bacteria. If not properly treated, some cases of salmonella food poisoning can lead to hospitalization, dehydration or death.
Consumers who have purchased eggs affected by the recall should not consume the eggs and should return them to their place of purchase for a full refund. The recall is limited to eggs sold in their shells.