Saturday, August 21, 2010

Egg recall

After identifying Wright County Egg in Galt County, Iowa and Hillandale Farms, also in Iowa, as the sources of Salmonella contamination, the companies have recalled half a billion eggs, Wright County Egg first recalled 380 million. Hillandale Farms has now recalled 107.4 million. Generally, USDA is responsible for egg safety at what are called breaker plants or egg products processing facilities. In these facilities eggs are broken and pasteurized. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for shell egg safety and egg products once they leave the breaking facility.

On the Internet, information about these companies is sketchy. A press release from the Humane Society of the United States, says that Wright County Egg confines over 7.5 million hens. Hens are confined their whole lives in cages so small each hen has the amount of space equivalent to a piece of 8 ½ x 11 letter-size paper. This is defended as humane and reasonable, what it takes to produce cheap eggs.

This contamination event, which is blamed for sickening 1,200 people thus far, may help educate the public about how their eggs get from the chicken to the table. The companies date them using the Julian calendar, otherwise used for astronomical events. It’s obscure – I can’t figure out how to tell when these eggs were laid. The recall covers eggs shipped since May 16.

The lack of transparency in the industry helps hide their shameful practices. Keeping consumers ignorant of how food is produced allows them to squeeze more profit out of production, regardless of how inhumane or filthy the conditions.

Mother Earth News documented better nutrition in eggs laid by chickens who range free, Protect yourself and support better lives for chickens by raising your own hens or buying eggs from a local small flock producer.

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