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Egg Recall Small Part of a Bigger Picture

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Experts from Cornell University say the recent massive egg recall from salmonella is a small part of a much bigger picture. Martin Wiedmann, a doctor of veterinary medicine and a professor of food science in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences says there are many more sources of salmonella that also need to be investigated.

The outbreak of salmonella from eggs is important, but Weidmann says, “The key is to look at all sources. While eggs are an important source of human salmonellosis, many people get sick due to salmonella from a variety of other sources. We need to attack the problem at all levels and at all transmission pathways. Eggs are only one part of the story.”

There are approximately 100,000 cases of salmonella every month in the United States, or 1.4 million cases in the U.S each year. Dr. Weidmann, who is an expert on food-borne diseases and pathogens, including salmonella and its transmission in food from farm animals to humans suggests that targeting eggs is not a solution for preventing salmonella spread.

Experts Comment on Egg Recall

Patrick McDonough, a professor of microbiology, an expert in health effects and control of salmonella, and a clinical bacteriologist/mycologist in the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine says we know how to control salmonella, but everything has to work as it should.

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According to McDonough, “We used to think that just washing the egg shell, and using Grade A shell eggs, would keep us safe. However, we know that infected hens do not show clinical signs and that the infection is harbored in the ovaries. When the shell is laid down, it actually covers the yolk, the albumen and the infection. If all works as it is supposed to, we would not have salmonella enteritidis outbreaks. Because we know the risks and how to control, prevent or mitigate as appropriate, the number of outbreaks should be able to be decreased."

Preventing food contamination happens at a State and National level says Craig Altier, a doctor of veterinary medicine and a professor of molecular biology. Food handlers also have a role in preventing food borne illness.

Altier is an expert on salmonella in animals and human transmission, and director of the clinical microbiology lab at the New York State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine. He warns it is everyone's responsibility to stop the spread of food borne illness. “The opportunity to control food-borne infections exists at many levels. "

The recent massive egg recall is important, but salmonella comes from other sources that also need investigated. A measured response and multi-level cooperative effort is recommended to prevent the spread of salmonella. The scientists say we all need to work together.

Cornell University via Newswise
Salmonella Fact Sheet