A salmonella outbreak that led to the multi-state recall in April of more than 200 million eggs has worsened in recent weeks, with the number of people sickened by the bacteria rising to almost three dozen.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Friday that the number of illnesses had risen to 35 — an increase of 12 cases since the initial egg recall notice. Eleven people have been hospitalized for complications related to the infections, the CDC said, but no deaths have been reported.
Nine states have reported illnesses: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. New York and Virginia have reported the highest number of cases, with eight each.
The outbreak has been linked to eggs distributed by Rose Acre Farms, a family-owned business based in Indiana that describes itself as the second-largest egg producer in the U.S.
The affected eggs came from one of the company’s farms, located in Hyde County, North Carolina. The eggs were sold under various brand names, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak and Crystal Farms. They were available at major grocery stores including Walmart and Food Lion. (The Food and Drug Administration has published a full list of recalled brands.)
The CDC said last week that it “continues to recommend consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, serve, or sell recalled eggs produced by Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County farm.”
“Throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a refund,” the agency said, urging consumers to first check egg cartons before consuming their contents.
“Check egg cartons for the following numbers: P-1065 (the plant number) and another set of numbers between 011 and 102 (the Julian date), or, for Publix and Sunups egg cartons, plant number P-1359D and Julian date 048A or 049A with Best Buy dates of APR 02 and APR 03.”
Rose Acre Farms told The Washington Post in a Saturday statement it was “disheartened by the additional illnesses.”
“We apologize to anyone who may have been sickened or who has a family member or friend who may have taken ill because of our eggs,” the company said. It added it had taken steps “to ensure the farm meets or exceeds the standards” set by the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the Post, Rose Acre Farms has come under scrutiny in the past for salmonella contamination. In 1990, the egg producer was linked to three separate salmonella outbreaks that sickened hundreds of people, the paper reported.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can be found on the inside of contaminated eggs and on eggshells, too. It can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps in sickened individuals; for older adults, infants and people with weakened immune systems, salmonella can cause more serious, even life-threatening, complications.
The CDC has published a list of recommendations aimed at helping consumers reduce their risk of contracting foodborne illnesses, such as salmonella, from eggs. The recommendations include not eating raw or undercooked eggs and keeping eggs refrigerated at all times.