The CDC says tainted eggs have added a dozen new cases to a monthlong nationwide salmonella outbreak. This brings the total so far to 35 sick people, 11 of whom have been hospitalized, since Indiana-based Rose Acre Farms first announced, on April 13, that it was recalling 207 million eggs. At the time, the producer added that the move was done in “an abundance of caution” after discovering some sort of contamination at its facility in Hyde County, North Carolina, but this is nevertheless the country’s largest egg recall in nearly a decade.
Knowing whether to toss out your eggs is unfortunately far less simple than checking the fridge for a box labeled “Rose Acre Farms.” The potentially tainted eggs were distributed between January 11 and April 12 in at least nine states — Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. The FDA says that they were sold under Walmart, Publix, and Food Lion’s store brands, plus a variety of brand names (Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Glenview, Nelms, Sunshine Farms, Sunups), and also turned up in a few restaurant chains like Waffle House. When the agency’s health inspectors did a site visit in March, they reportedly found over a dozen rodents crawling around, and also saw employees handle dirty equipment and touch their bodies without washing their hands afterward.
Despite the pastoral name, Rose Acre Farms has facilities in seven states and is America’s second-largest egg producer, after its rival Cal-Maine Foods. The egg business is so interconnected that in mid-April, Cal-Maine was forced to issue its own recall for 280,800 eggs because they’d been “purchased from Rose Acre Farms and re-packaged” as Cal-Maine’s.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Rose Acre said that it’s “not only corrected deficiencies at the farm” but “also taken steps to ensure the farm meets or exceeds the standards of the FDA and USDA.” That’s good, because this is the second time that Rose Acre has been tied to a huge salmonella outbreak. The last one was in 1990, 28 years ago, that sickened 450 people — and that’s two more salmonella outbreaks than your average egg producer has had.
The FDA has of course posted the full list of recalled products and warns that, if it turns out you still have one of the possibly unsafe cartons, you should chuck them in the trash or return them for a refund.