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Salmonella and Eggs

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Salmonella and Eggs

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Are the eggs you eat safe? Inspections of Iowa egg production farms led to recalls of more than half a billion eggs. The visits to the farms were carried out to check compliance with federal egg safety regulations. Inspectors found unsanitary conditions in barns, including mice, maggots, flies, and piles of chicken manure as high as 8 feet. Escaped chickens tracked through the manure, and became infected with salmonella. As many as 1,500 cases of salmonella infected people have been reported since the spring of 2010. This is one kind of egg you don’t want on your face.

Salmonella is a bacteria that infects people, animals and birds. It creates a form of food poisoning marked by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Dehydration, blood infection and electrolyte imbalances can be fatal. The disease can be transmitted by raw eggs and meats, egg products, inadequately cooked meat, vegetables, cereal, pistachio nuts, and contaminated water. Humans can become carriers of the disease when the bacteria hides in the liver and gallbladder. The “wash your hands” signs in restaurant bathrooms are directed primarily to food handlers who may transmit salmonella from their feces to uninfected people.
eggs and salmonella
Although other factors can cause the same symptoms of Salmonella, such as infections with E. Coli, Shigella, viruses, and other toxins, the Salmonella organism can be cultured from a stool sample. Some experts believe Salmonella should be treated with antibiotics, while others say this is unnecessary in healthy people because the disease is self-limited. Dehydration is combated with IV fluids and water containing electrolytes. It can be tough to hold down even water. When I got food poisoning in India in 2008, I was unable to eat or drink anything for three days, and I gagged when I tried to drink water. I lost 10 pounds in 4 days.

What you can do:
Consider using Egg Beaters instead of eggs until the extent of the infected eggs is known.
Keep eggs refrigerated and discard any that are cracked or dirty.
Wash your hands with antibacterial soap and hot water after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs or using the bathroom. Avoid eating undercooked or raw meat or eggs.
Wash fruits, lettuce, and other vegetables before eating.
Don’t allow frozen meat to thaw at room temperature all day. Don’t let food with mayonnaise sit out on hot days.
You’ll reduce your risk of food poisoning by following these precautions.

Liability issues
The law allows for injunctions and criminal prosecution against the owners of the infected egg farms. Salmonella-related deaths would meet the criteria of significant damages for a potential lawsuit. Proving that contaminated eggs came from a specific farm would be difficult in some cases. But with the disgusting conditions uncovered by the egg farm inspections, it would not be hard to establish failure to comply with industry standards for sanitation.

Sources:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/business/31eggs.html?_r=2&emc=eta1
http://www.cdc.gov/Features/SalmonellaEggs/

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