Egg recall for Salmonella: 2,000 sickened and 500 million eggs recalled

Egg recall for Salmonella: 2,000 sickened and 500 million eggs recalledAs the nation's massive recall of potentially contaminated eggs expands to more than half a billion eggs so does the number of those sickened -- rising to nearly 2,000 reported cases, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And it's becoming clearer that the already-staggering numbers are just going to get bigger. Dr. Margaret Hamburg, commission of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said on The Today Show that consumers will hear of yet more brands of eggs being recalled.

"We may see some additional sort of sub-recalls over the next couple of days, maybe even weeks, as we better understand the network of distribution of these eggs that are contaminated," she said.

Donna Rosenbaum, executive director of the food safety advocacy group S.T.O.P. (Safe Tables Our Priority), said the numbers and the sheer size of this recall bear out how significant a recall it is.

"This is pretty unprecedented in U.S. history," she said.

Outbreaks connected to eggs typically happen in an institutional setting when hundreds of eggs are cracked into large receptacles, which get refilled without being cleaned sometimes for months, Rosenbaum said. In those situations, one bad egg can spoil the bunch and sicken a lot of people. This type of outbreak is extraordinary, she said.

Rosenbaum said she and her daughter both got sick -- a mild form of gastroenteritis -- from the eggs in this recall. She said she connected their illness to the eggs after getting a call from Costco telling her they had purchased eggs that are included in the recall.

S.T.O.P., which also supports victims of food poisoning and sends out email alerts about food-related problems, has been a forceful advocate for modernizing federal food safety laws. The FDA currently has no authority to issue a recall and instead waits for the company involved to do so and then publishes the company's recall statement on its website.

A bill to give the FDA the power to issue recalls and hire more staff is stuck in Congress, but this recall could serve as the final push to get the bill to become law.

"We need additional resources. We need additional authority," Hamburg said on The Today Show.

Originally, the recall started at large egg-laying facilities run by Wright County Egg in Iowa -- a major egg producer that ships its eggs to a widely-scattered group of distributors, who in turn package the eggs under a host of brand names and send them to retail in a still larger sphere.

Since then, all of Wright County Egg's farms have been included and so has another egg producer, Hillandale Farm, also in Iowa. Hillandale sells under the following brands: Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms and West Creek. An example of the scope of the recall comes from Walmart, which said that 630 of its stores in 20 states have been affected.

State and federal investigators try to trace back the original source of the eggs from those who were sickened -- by identifying where they ate them or bought them. The CDC said outbreaks were connected to illnesses among people who had eaten at 26 restaurants in 10 states, all of whose eggs originated at Wright County Egg facilities.

Salmonella can be fatal to those most vulnerable to infection: young children, the frail, elderly and those with compromised immune systems. For most, the symptoms would be gastrointestinal distress and could involve a fever.

Other egg brands included in the recall: Albertsons, Bayview, Dutch Farms, Lucerne, Farm Fresh, James Farms, Glenview, Mountain Dairy, Nulaid, Shoreland, Sunshine, Sun Valley, Ralph's, Boomsma, Lund, Kemps and Pacific Coast.

The government's has addition details about egg safety and brands included in the constantly expanding recall as well as the codes on the packaging.

Here are the all important egg numbers and codes from the first couple of recalls, which include Julian dates of 136-229 and now includes plant numbers 1026, 1091, 1413, 1686, 1720, 1942, 1946 and 1951. The plant number will be preceded by the letter "P" and followed by the Julian date code. You can see a photo of how to read the code here. Sell by dates vary.

See what Dr. Hamburg said on The Today Show:

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