Laboratory tests have confirmed that the two Iowa egg companies that have recalled over a half-billion eggs are contaminated with the same strain of salmonella blamed for a national outbreak of illness, which has sickened at least 1,500 people. The confirmation backs up suspicions by the Food and Drug Administration that tainted eggs from the two Iowa producers have caused the biggest case of Salmonella enteritidis disease that federal officials have seen since they began tracking the illness in the 1970s.
FDA investigators detected the particular strain of salmonella in two barns at Wright County Egg and in feed that the company made and gave to its own chickens. The agency also found that strain in feed that Wright supplied to Hillandale. Jeff Farrar, associate commissioner for food protection at FDA says these are the very first results and there are many other results in the queue that may give more clues as to the extent of contamination.
According to Josh Sharfstein, deputy commissioner at FDA, animal feed is generally heated to kill microbes, so it is possible that the feed became contaminated after it arrived at Wright County Egg. Sharfstein says the feed facility is at the same location of all these problems so there are multiple ways it may have become contaminated. In the meantime, Wright County Egg and Hillandale are selling their eggs to facilities that pasteurize them, a process that kills salmonella.