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In the third egg recall to happen in two weeks, Iowa’s Hillandale Farms has announced a recall of 170 million eggs in 14 states due to a link between the producer and salmonella.

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea if ingested. Rarely, it can cause much more serious health problems, particularly in people with depressed immune systems. Chickens can get it from contaminated food, from rodents in and around their cages, or from workers who are not following proper health precautions, and can pass it on to their eggs.

Earlier this week, Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa, announced a recall of 380 million of its eggs. The total number of eggs recalled for salmonella now hovers around half a billion.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of cases of salmonella may have been linked to tainted eggs, according to federal health officials. Investigators are continuing to look at the clusters of illness to see whether any other egg producers might be linked to the outbreak.-NY Times

To try to prevent such an outbreak, on July 9, the FDA implemented a new set of safety rules for egg producers that the larger producers—those with more than 50,000 hens—should have been following by now.

FDA’s new rules cover refrigeration of stored and transported eggs, pasteurization, rodent control, cleanliness and a required written Salmonella enteritidis prevention plan. The agency said "implementing the preventive measures would reduce the number of Salmonella Enteritidis infections from eggs by nearly 60 percent."

"The outbreak could have been prevented," Sherri McGarry of the FDA said. "The egg safety rule is in a phase-in approach, but there are measures that would have been in place that could have prevented this if it been placed earlier than in July."-CNN

So why did the FDA wait so long to implement the new egg rules? My guess is that it has to do with the agency’s notorious underfunding and understaffing.

Please make sure that you cook any eggs you buy fully to kill any potential bacteria, and that you thoroughly wash your hands and any utensils that have touched raw eggs.

Click here for a complete listing of all recalled eggs.

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