Unsanitary conditions contributed to salmonella outbreak

Published 8:13 pm Friday, May 18, 2018

HYDE COUNTY — Twelve new salmonella cases, each tied to eggs produced by Rose Acre Farms Hyde County facility, have been documented by the Centers for Disease Control since mid-April. Of the 35 documented cases, five have been from North Carolina. Thus far, 11 individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported as a result of the outbreak.

As to the reason behind these illnesses, and the subsequent recall of 206 million eggs, one of the largest in U.S. history, rodent infestation and poor sanitation practices at the Hyde County egg farm may have contributed to the outbreak.

According to documentation from a Food and Drug Administration inspection of the facility, live and dead rodents were observed in numerous Hyde County Egg Farm chicken houses. Further, the document tells management of the farm, “When monitoring indicated unacceptable rodent activity within a poultry house, appropriate methods were not used to achieve satisfactory rodent control.”

Over the course of three days of inspection in late March, multiple rodents, both live and dead, were observed in eight separate poultry houses

Employee sanitation practices may have also contributed to the issue. According to the FDA inspection, “throughout the inspection several production and maintenance employees were observed touching non-food contact surfaces (i.e. face, hair, intergluteal cleft, production equipment with accumulated grime and food debris, floor, boxes, trash cans, inedible transport cans) and then touch shell eggs and food contact surfaces (i.e. buffers, rollers, etc.) without changing gloves or washing hands.”

The report also states that multiple flying insects were observed throughout the processing facility, landing on food, food contact surfaces and food production equipment.

According to information from the CDC, the process for tracing illnesses back to the source is complex. Patterns in where and when people became sick, common threads linking them together can be used to determine a common point of contamination. Inspections of the facilities in question can then allow the CDC to link germs in the production environment to germs found in sick patients, confirming the source of the contamination.

In order to tell if eggs in your refrigerator may be impacted by the recall, look on the side of the carton for a specific sequence of numbers: P-1065 (the plant number), a Julian date (day of packaging) between 011 and 102.

A lawsuit, filed on May 14 against Rose Acre farms by a Florida woman who allegedly contracted salmonella from the contaminated eggs, is currently pending. The plaintiff is seeking financial compensation.

Request for comment from the Hyde County facility was not answered as of publication.