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Egg Recall: Frequently Asked Questions

Huge Salmonella Outbreak Traced to Recalled Eggs: What You Should Know

Do I have contaminated eggs in my refrigerator? continued...

Two previous recalls were issued by Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa, on Aug. 13 and Aug. 18. On Aug. 20, Hillandale Farms of Iowa issued a third recall.

Hundreds of millions of eggs would make a lot of omelets. But the recalled eggs actually represent less than 1% of the U.S. egg supply. The U.S. produces around 67 billion eggs each year. About 47 billion are sold in the shell as table eggs; the rest are processed into products such as pasta, cake mix, ice cream, mayonnaise, and baked goods.

The huge size of the farm linked to the salmonella outbreak isn't unusual. More than 4,000 U.S. farms have 3,000 or more laying hens that produce about 90 eggs per 100 hens per day. About 17% of farms in the states that produce the most eggs (California in the west; Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Pennsylvania in the east) have more than 30,000 laying hens.

On the other hand, the FDA estimates that each year, U.S. farms distribute 2.3 million eggs filled with salmonella. The CDC estimates that one in 50 consumers is exposed to a contaminated egg each year.

Unfortunately, an egg contaminated with salmonella appears normal.

Here's the FDA's advice on how to identify the recalled eggs:

On the carton of eggs in your refrigerator, look for:

  • Plant numbers — the four-digit plant number can be found on the short side of the carton. The numbers are preceded by the letter P (see graphic).
  • Julian date — eggs are packaged with the Julian date on the short side of the carton after the plant number (see graphic). The Julian date tells what day of the year the eggs were packaged without the month, so Jan. 1 is 001, and Dec. 31 is 365.

Hillandale Farms egg cartons affected by the recall will have these numbers:

  • P1860 – Julian dates ranging from 099 to 230
  • P1663 – Julian dates ranging from 137 to 230

The Wright County Farms eggs that are being recalled are:

  • P1720 and P1942 – with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 229
  • P1026, 1413,1946 – with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 225

The companies have identified more than 16 brand names under which the eggs were sold, but that information is incomplete. Some eggs were sold individually rather than in cartons, so they could be repackaged under other brands.

Eggs affected by the recall have been shipped since May 16 to grocery distribution sites, retail grocery stores, food wholesalers, distribution centers, and food service companies nationwide.

If you have recalled eggs, throw them away or return them to the retailer for a refund. If you are unsure about the source of your eggs, throw them away.

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