380 Million Egg Recall Due To Salmonella

“They are saying in this 380 million Egg Recall that the Salmonella is inside the chicken, infecting the inside of the egg. I know you can get salmonella from not washing your hands after handling eggs, but an infected chicken? How would we ever know if our chickens were infected on the farm. How does the chicken get infected? Chickens are immune to the Salmonella virus, aren’t they?” ~ Glenn Young, Texas

Hi Glenn,

This is a great question.

I did some checking on the recall and it seems that there were workers handling dead chickens and manure with their bare hands. To me that means that they probably did not practice proper sanitation.

There is a lot of confusion about Salmonella so let’s take some time to dig through it.

Salmonella bacteria live naturally in the intestines of poultry, among other animals.

The bacteria is harmless to the chickens so you don’t really have “infected chickens”, it is the similar to the bacteria present in our GI track aiding in our own digestion.

However, Salmonellosis, the illness caused by the ingestion of salmonella bacteria, is the most often reported foodborne illness.

Typically symptoms of fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea begin within 8 to 72 hours after the contaminated food is consumed. Chills, headache, nausea and vomiting may also occur. Symptoms usually clear up within 4 to 7 days.

Salmonella infections are especially dangerous for infants, young children, elderly adults, pregnant women, unborn babies and those with compromised immune systems.

If salmonella bacteria is present in food, it does not have any affect on the appearance, smell or taste of the food so we must take proper handling and cooking measures to keep from getting ill.

So again, the bacteria is present in the intestines of the chicken and therefore, in their manure.

For this reason, we must always wash our hands with soap and warm/hot water after we have been handling our chickens or any thing that might come in contact with their manure.

All surfaces that come into contact with uncooked poultry must be thoroughly washed, including any utensils, cutting boards and surfaces. Chicken should always be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the bacteria has been killed.

When it comes to eggs, the contents of the egg will not be contaminated with bacteria if the eggs are handled and washed properly.

The protective bloom covering the shell seals the porous shell, creating a barrier between the contents of the egg and any bacteria.

The risk is increased when the bloom is washed or worn away on an egg that has come into contact with manure. So prevention of contact with manure is the first line of defense.

Keep nest boxes very clean, cleaning out and replacing nesting material often.

Chickens do most of their pooping at night while on the roost so make sure your nest boxes are not under the roost, even better, nowhere near them.

Manure needs to be regularly cleaned up in the coop, keeping in mind that chickens will walk right through it and then hop up into their nest box to lay an egg.

Collect eggs often and handle them as little as possible to keep from disturbing the protective bloom that covers the shell.

If eggs are clean, store them in the refrigerator once they have been collected and wash them with water before cracking them for use.

If the eggs have any dirt or straw on them, gently brush it off and follow the same guidelines as above for clean eggs.

If the eggs have just a speck of poop on them, try to “flick” it off. If the shell underneath is not discolored from the manure, you’re probably just fine and do not need to wash the egg before you store it.

However, if there is more than a speck of manure on the shell, the egg will need to be washed.

I prefer to bring the eggs to room temperature before washing them if they are freshly laid or if temperatures are hot outside.

We only wash in COOL WATER.

The reason I pay attention to the temperature of not only the egg but the water is because I want to keep the egg from expanding and contracting, drawing whatever is on the outside of the shell into the inside of the shell.

We only wash in RUNNING WATER and never immerse the eggs.

Once an egg gets wet, even a little wet, the bloom is washed away.

If you immerse manured eggs into a sink full of water, the manure will be washed away, as well as the bloom. You are left with a sink full of manure water and unprotected eggs, not a good combination.

When washing manure from an egg, always try to wash the manure away from the shell and not down onto it.

If it is necessary to use a scrubbing brush (which you would use only for this purpose and would thoroughly wash after each use) do not scrub back and forth but only in one motion and away from the egg,

Once the eggs are clean, you would obviously place them under refrigeration.

I always use my washed eggs before my unwashed eggs because they will not stay fresh as long once the bloom is washed away.

If an egg has a crack in it and there is any possibility that it has come into contact with manure, it is best to throw the egg away.

If an egg is heavily manured, throw it away.

Finally, as a family, we really enjoy our eggs cooked over easy and that is the way we most often eat them.

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that cooking an egg completely is the only way to ensure that any salmonella bacteria has been killed

The food our chickens provide for us must be handled properly but there need not be any more concern with these products than with any other food.
Glenn, I hope this has been of help in addressing your concerns, thanks for the questions.

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