Egg Safety: Control Factors of Salmonellosis

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Virginia Tech

Salmonella enterica serotype Enteritidis (SE) continues to be one of the most commonly identified bacteria associated with outbreaks of human salmonellosis around the world, particularly in developed countries (CDC, 2011). In the United States, salmonellosis is a common infection with occurrences reaching up to 1.4 million in a year (Braden, 2006). From May to November of 2010, approximately 1,983 illnesses were reported and associated as a result of a single Salmonella spp outbreak detected in the United States (CDC, 2011). The source of the outbreak was traced to Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa and subsequently led to the voluntary recall of 380 million eggs distributed throughout the country. Hillandale Farms, also in Iowa, voluntarily recalled another 170 million eggs (CDC, 2011). Identifying the source of the outbreak was the result of coordinated investigations by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), local public health authorities and the Food and Drug Association (FDA). According to the United Egg Producer’s (UEP) website, the chance of eggs containing SE is rare in the United States. Estimates are 1 in 20,000 eggs might be contaminated with SE (UEP, 2010; Guard-Petter, 2001). This would mean that a consumer would encounter an infected egg once in 84 years. The number is also claimed to be decreasing due to the increased protection measures adapted by egg producers over the past decade. Improved sanitary housing systems, vaccinations and cleaning processes have all led to the claim of decreased cases of SE throughout the nation (Braden, 2006; UEP, 2010; Patrick, et al., 2004). The use of average outbreaks can be misleading due to the nature of infection and their correlation to single producer outbreaks. Investigation into SE outbreaks between 1985 and 1999 by Patrick, et al., 2004 concluded that outbreaks of SE infections in human decreased by almost 50% between 1995 and 1999. These reports may have left people feeling like things were on the right track, then the Wright County Egg incident occurred. Without constant vigilance and willingness to incorporate new ideas, the next big outbreak is around the corner. This paper will look at the various methods available to increase the quality of eggs and integrating those ideas into a viable program to fortify public safety.

salmonella entericia, commercial egg production, quality management, public safety