Egg firm linked to Salmonella illnesses for second time in a year

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Egg Illness

Eight people have been sickened by a Salmonella outbreak linked to eggs, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Salmonella Oranienburg infections were reported from three states with two people hospitalized, said the agency.

Shell eggs distributed by Good Earth Egg Company of Bonne Terre, Missouri are the likely source of infection. Eggs were sold under different brand names.

The Good Earth Egg Company has recalled shell eggs and said it was working with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to determine the cause of potential contamination.

Various sizes of eggs are packaged in 6-count cartons, 10-count cartons, 12-count cartons, 18-count cartons, 15 dozen cases, and 30 dozen cases.

Dates and codes on the cartons and cases include everything prior to and including date code 252 – Sell By 10/8/2016, with “Packed for” or “Produced for Good Earth Egg Company”.

They were distributed in the Midwest including Missouri, Illinois and Kansas, at retail and wholesale level, institutions, restaurants and walk-in customers. Good Earth eggs were sold at Dierbergs, Straubs, Midtowne Market and Price Chopper in the St. Louis area.

Link to outbreak last year

The strain of Salmonella Oranienburg is closely related genetically to one from a 2015 outbreak linked to the Good Earth Egg Company.

In the 2015 outbreak, 52 ill people were reported from six states. Good Earth Egg Company recalled all its shell eggs in January this year​.

good earth egg company
Good Earth Egg Company recalled shell eggs in January

Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) showed the isolates of Salmonella Oranienburg from eggs distributed by Good Earth Egg Company are closely related to isolates from ill people in this outbreak and from ill people and environmental samples in the 2015 outbreak.

Of the six ill people interviewed in the current outbreak all of them reported eating or possibly eating shell eggs in the week before illness started.

A traceback investigation from one restaurant in Missouri where three ill people reported eating eggs showed Good Earth Egg Company supplied to that restaurant.

Strain isolated from restaurant and environmental samples

Missouri health officials isolated the outbreak strain from the Missouri restaurant. Environmental samples at Good Earth Egg Company’s processing facility also isolated the outbreak strain.

Illness dates range from April 23 to August 24, ill people from one year to 85 and 63% are female.

Illnesses after September 9 might not yet be reported as it takes an average of two to four weeks between when a person becomes ill and when illness is reported.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the FDA inspected Good Earth Egg Company in September and found environmental samples that were a PFGE match to the Salmonella strain found in people who reported illness in 2015 and 2016.

Missouri state partners made a second close order to the company which will remain until the cause for illness is removed and satisfactory environmental samples are collected.

In December 2015, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services ordered Good Earth Egg Company to cease operations following Salmonella findings in its facility but it reopened after new samples returned negative for Salmonella.

Later that month PFGE analysis of environmental samples from the processing facility and henhouses by the FDA and state partners identified the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oranienburg, and Good Earth Egg Company recalled all of its shell eggs. 

The FDA issued a Warning Letter​ to the company in February following its December inspection, citing multiple violations, including failing to comply with the Egg Safety Rule.  

Closed investigations

Meanwhile, two outbreak investigations have ended, according to the CDC.

A total of 63 people infected with outbreak strains of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O121 or STEC O26 were linked to flour produced at a General Mills facility in Kansas City​, Missouri.

The outbreak affected 24 states and 17 people were hospitalized with one developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

Laboratory testing by FDA isolated STEC O121 in open samples of General Mills flour from the homes of ill people in Arizona, Colorado and Oklahoma in June.

A month later laboratory testing by General Mills and FDA isolated STEC O26 from a sample of General Mills flour.

CDC said it was a reminder that it is not safe to taste or eat raw dough or batter made from flour.

The agency added illnesses are expected to continue for some time as flour products have long shelf lives and may still be in people's homes.

The other investigation involved a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Reading and Salmonella Abony infections. Thirty-six ill people were reported from nine states and seven were hospitalized.

Alfalfa sprouts supplied by Sprouts Extraordinaire​ of Denver, Colorado were the likely source. The firm recalled products in August.

  • This article was updated to reflect the recall by Good Earth Egg Company.

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