When Eggs Attack: What You Need to Know about Salmonella and the Bad Egg Recall


Have you ever had food poisoning? I have and tend to refer to that time as “3-Mile-Island of the Digestive System.” It is awful, terrible, and miserable. Did I say miserable? I can’t imagine anyone with a compromised immune system getting through it without hospitalization. And now the U.S. is in the grips of a bad outbreak.

Why? Because the food industry has messed with salmonella, and consumers are paying big time. A national outbreak has forced massive egg recalls all over the nations. As of the writing of this article, 1,300 people have been sickened nationwide. Over half a billion eggs have been recalled and the FDA says more are on the way.

Two Iowa hatcheries are at the center of it all. Hillandale Farms and Wright County Egg have recalled around half a billion eggs. Both hatcheries have a history of producing tainted eggs after violating both state and federal law. Chickens can get salmonella when raised in unsanitary conditions. As the New York Times reports: “Infected hens can lay eggs with the bacteria inside them, and people can become sick if they eat tainted eggs that are not fully cooked.”

How Serious is This?
Carol Tucker Foreman is a food safety expert of the Consumer Federation of America. As she told The NY Times, “you have to treat eggs with the assumption that they’re contaminated with salmonella.” Food and Drug Administration commissioner Margaret Hamburg has promised aggressive investigations as to how this happened in the first place. The egg industry has consolidated in recent years, with fewer, larger companies controlling the production of eggs.

And there is a trail of violations that date back decades. As one attorney told the Associated Press: “The history of ignoring the law makes the sickening of 1,300 and the forced recall of 550 million eggs shockingly understandable “¦ You have to wonder where the USDA and FDA inspectors were.”

Can You Still Eat Eggs?
Yes, if you are careful. As experts advise, do not eat raw or undercooked eggs. Also beware of foods made with raw eggs, such as homemade hollandaise sauce, salad dressings, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough, and frostings. You can check your egg cartons for tainted batches by following this link from the FDA.

If You Get It – What Now?
You can’t really stop food poisoning, especially if it hits 72 hours after you’ve processed the tainted food. Instead, you have to ride it out and hope you don’t accidentally vomit out your foot. First and foremost, consult a trained medical professional for advice. (Or have someone do it for you because you are probably not able to get off the couch.) Salmonella poisoning is not to be trifled with, especially if you are a child, elderly, pregnant, or have a compromised immune system.

Unfortunately, you can expect to feel as bad as you have ever felt. Diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps are part of the deal. Your symptoms will develop 12 to 72 hours after infection, and the illness usually lasts four to seven days.

But there are some things you can do to ride out the green wave. First of all, keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea is your biggest enemy. Plain, room-temperature water works best – or you can sip on a rehydration drink like Pedialyte. Avoid drinks high in sugars.

Some suggest swallowing charcoal tablets. Charcoal is thought to absorb toxins and poisons in your system. Others suggest one to two tablespoons of undiluted apple cider vinegar to help with nausea, followed by a lot more water. Also try to return to your healthy, normal diet as soon as you can keep something down, as proper nutrition will aid your system in recovery. Avoid salty or sugary foods high in fat.

How did this happen? Take a look at the award-winning documentary Food Inc. for an in-depth analysis of the American food industry.

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Katherine Butler

Katherine Butler is the Beauty Editor of EcoSalon and currently resides in Los Angeles, California.