August 24th, 2010
03:27 PM ET

Eggs recalled, a nation scrambles

Just looking for the basics about what you need to know about the 2010 egg recall? Here are quick links that'll help answer your questions about the latest recall and salmonella outbreak.

What’s going on?

About half a billion eggs have been recalled because of  a salmonella outbreak.  While this recall involves hundreds of millions of eggs, they represent less than 1 percent of the 80 billion eggs produced in the United States each year, according to the Egg Safety Center, a trade association entity.

Egg producer Hillandale Farms of Iowa recalled some 170.4 million eggs distributed to stores and companies and another company, Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa, has recalled 380 million eggs.

Which eggs are affected?

The Egg Safety Center has a complete list of recalled eggs, their expiration dates, and brands. If you happen to have any of these don’t eat them – get rid of them or return them for a refund.

How many people have been affected?

About 1,300 cases of salmonella have been linked to eggs from Wright County Eggs and Hillandale Farms of Iowa, forcing a recall of their products in at least 17 states, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What is salmonella?

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains that chickens can pass salmonella enteritidis, the bacteria at the center of the outbreak, without getting sick.  Symptoms for humans can be mild to severe, but most people will have some gastrointestinal signs.

How did salmonella get into the eggs?

Laying hens can be infected either by contact with human workers who have not followed proper sanitary procedures, or, more frequently, by consuming feed that has come into contact with rodent feces. Affected hens can transmit the bacteria from their ovaries or oviducts before the shell even forms around an egg, thus making the egg's tainted status undetectable, Eatocracy’s Kat Kinsman explains.

What’s the background on the egg companies?

Congress has asked the two Iowa-based egg producers for details on the contamination of their egg products. The companies, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms were supplied by another company, Quality Egg, which provided feed and young birds. Both Wright County and Quality Egg are owned by the DeCoster family, which has a string of agribusiness interests in the Midwest and Northeast.

Could this have been prevented?

The latest outbreak raises serious questions about the U.S. food supply and safety.  New regulations went into effect July 9, requiring egg producers with more than 3,000 hens to take measures designed to prevent the spread of salmonella.  But the current outbreak began in May, according to the FDA.

I love eating eggs.  Do I have to give them up?

Avoid the recalled products and here are some additional safety tips.

Will I be safer if I eat cage-free or organic eggs?

Regardless of methodology, none of it ensures that the eggs are completely safe from salmonella, Eatocracy explains.

soundoff (156 Responses)
  1. Dre

    Two thirds of the chicken meat sold in grocery stores is contaminated with salmonella every day. That's why we are supposed to cook raw foods... and now they are classifying this as some major "outbreak".

    It's not recommended to eat raw eggs, and it states that on the egg cartons, restaurant menus etc. If you ordered a hamburger cooked rare, you would be taking a risk by eating the rare beef. It's the same thing if you eat uncooked egg products. This sounds like another reason to give the FDA more power to mess with perfectly good food because as they say " it's not worth the risk". Why is it okay to for people to consume chicken on a daily basis that is contains salmonella but not eggs? Wake up!

    August 25, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Carl

    Interesting. Immunizing chickens against salmonella will protect the mfrom getting sick, but not necessarily from passing the bacteria on to us, just as a disease carrier might do, without showing any sign of illness.

    I'd love to see more info on a "low-temperature pasteurization" process that can reliably kill pathogens inside an egg.

    August 25, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Bill Lockney

    While watching CNN the other day, about the possible contaminated eggs when CNN displayed several cartons of eggs. One of the cartons was legible with the name " EGGLANDS BEST". This name is not on your recall list for contaminated eggs.
    Who is correct? The face people on TV or the written list on your web site?
    Please advise.

    August 25, 2010 at 20:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. John Doe

    Sample Body

    August 25, 2010 at 21:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. skydy

    hell just drop the eggs on Iran

    August 26, 2010 at 08:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jerome

    The One World Government is making it's move.

    August 26, 2010 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Bob

    I didn't really think people could be this stupid. 1300 people got the runs. It's no big deal. More folks get sick from cooks not washing their hands. IDIOTS

    August 26, 2010 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. dave

    this is insane...the media getting people all worked up...if you fully cook eggs it kills salmonella...so instead of having sunny side up or over easy, get scrambled or an omelette and youll be just fine....if you are that worried about your food, as someone who has worked at restauraunts i would suggest that you never eat out again

    August 26, 2010 at 17:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. D

    I'm just going to ask one logical question regarding everything that I have heard and read here....why has nobody asked the question, if these eggs are contaminated..why is it that it's only them being recalled? How many different food products are these things in that are more than likely still on shelves? And why is there no information on whats being done there

    August 28, 2010 at 01:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kerin

    Free-range and organic are not guarantees, but they sure put the odds in your favor! Note that it was tainted feed that infected the chickens. If the chickens eat mostly natural food, instead of mass-produced pellets from who knows where – well, remember the dog-food issue of a couple of years ago? Same thing will happen, because there is no accountability, so people take shortcuts with quality and safety. Small, local farms also offer an advantage, since they are not storing tons of feed at a time and don't have as many workers who could pass on germs as well. Small farm, local, free range, organic – your best bets.

    August 29, 2010 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Paul M

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  12. Mark Kreischer


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    August 30, 2010 at 00:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. fuelyourlife

    So we have:

    1. People who think this entire issue is absolute nonsense and that consumers just need to cook their eggs
    2. People who think the conditions of hens and chickens is horrible and think its horrible to eat eggs
    3. People who think its okay to eat eggs but farmers need to change their practices
    4. People blaming the consumer for purchasing the cheapest eggs and not the most "humane", which are also the most expensive
    5. People who think its okay to eat eggs as long as they support the small farmer (locally produced, organic, etc)

    ...Talk about confusing as hell. Personally, i don't eat eggs for this very reason. i feel uncomfortable with it since I watched Food Inc. But, i can't preach PETA/Vegan type material here..thats not what im out to do.

    I would like to tell everyone DO NOT EAT EGGS...but i see how unrealistic that is, given the mass production and usage of eggs in the country. Instead, i will just recommend people to support local farmers. Large corporate farming has destroyed the food industry and will continue to do so if we continue to support these products.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food,_Inc. – Watch it. You don't need to believe it, but just get watch it...knowledge is crucial.

    August 30, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Lauren

    If these companies have had trouble before, why haven't they been shut down yet?

    September 1, 2010 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. LaurenPGFL

    The government should take this issue a little more seriously. Not only is it bad for the consumer, but it's a case of chicken abuse.

    September 1, 2010 at 22:51 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.