How Does Salmonella Get Into Eggs?

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Last Friday, an egg farm in North Carolina initiated the largest recall of its kind in almost a decade: More than 206 million eggs, sold under a variety of brand names, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Crystal Farms, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, and Sunshine Farms.

The New York Times noted at the time of the 2010 egg recall that Salmonella enteritidis in chicken eggs first appeared in the 1970s and 80s, although the "why?" and "how?" aren't exactly clear.

The recall of more than 206 million eggs prompts a question: What will happen to all those eggs? The FDA's investigation traced the problems back to that farm and the company's other farm in Hyde County, North Carolina, which was the distribution point of the eggs.

The possibly contaminated eggs were sold under the brand names Country Daybreak, Coburn Farms, Crystal Farms, Sunshine Farms, Glenview, Walmart, and Food Lion. That means the contaminated eggs have likely sickened hundreds of people more than the 23 we know about.

The latest egg recall involves 280,800 eggs from Cal-Maine Foods, which is a Publix distributor.

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Health officials discovered the possible outbreak after reports of illnesses from consumers living on the East Coast.

Consumers are urged to check their egg cartons against the recalled batches listed online.

Rose Acre Farms is based in Seymour, Ind., and says it is the second-largest egg producer in the U.S. A total of 22 illnesses related to the egg recall have been reported. The possibly tainted eggs were distributed from the farm between January 11 and April 12. The bacteria can also cause arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis on rare occasions.

A notice posted on the Food & Drug Administration website Friday says the eggs shipped to restaurants and grocery stores in nine states may be tainted with salmonella.

You can find the full FDA recall announcement here.

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