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Published August 21, 2010, 12:00 AM

Good egg, bad egg? Recall has nation checking 380 million eggs

An egg recall around the state may have Douglas County residents running to their refrigerators.

By: Celeste Beam, staff reporter, Alexandria Echo Press

An egg recall around the state may have Douglas County residents running to their refrigerators.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) confirmed seven cases of salmonella in Minnesota that are linked to the multi-state egg recall.

In a report released this week by MDH, the illnesses are connected with the recalled eggs, which come from an Iowa producer. The eggs were recalled due to contamination with salmonella.

The salmonella enteriditis cases were identified in two restaurant outbreaks in May and July, in which eggs were identified as the likely source, said MDH.

Eggs were tracked back by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture to Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa. Restaurant clusters with the same strain of salmonella have been identified in additional states.

Douglas County residents, however, can probably rest assured that they are safe if they bought eggs at local grocery stores, including Elden’s Food Fair, Pete’s County Market and Walmart.

According to Elliot Christensen from Elden’s Food Fair, eggs for his store come from Crystal Farms in Le Sueur, not from Iowa.

“We’re safe here,” said Christensen.

Mark Klein with Pete’s County Market said the eggs recalled in the news do not include those at his store.

A representative from Walmart said the Alexandria store was not affected by the recall.

The newspaper spoke with one Douglas County resident who received a positive salmonella diagnosis from the Alexandria Clinic in July. The diagnosis was sent to MDH for further review. The individual reported eating eggs at an Otter Tail County restaurant 24 hours prior to becoming sick, although was not notified by MDH if the restaurant had any confirmed salmonella connections.

Douglas County Public Health Director Sandy Tubbs urges people to check their egg cartons and compare the numbers identified as potentially contaminated eggs.

One thing to keep in mind, however, said Tubbs, is that all eggs with the identified lot numbers have been pulled from shelves and that residents needn’t be concerned with eggs they are purchasing now.

Tubbs also suggested that persons experiencing severe gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain) should see their healthcare provider.

The eggs affected by the recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and food service companies in Minnesota, as well as California, Illinois, Missouri, Colorado, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Iowa. These companies, said MDH, distribute nationwide.

Eggs from Wright County Egg are packed under the following brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph’s, Boomsma’s, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps.

Eggs are packed in various sizes of cartons – six-egg, dozen and 18-egg cartons – with Julian dates ranging from 136-225 and plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946. A Julian date is the numeric date of the year that the eggs were cartoned. For example, eggs cartoned on January 1 would have a 001 on it, where as eggs cartoned on December 31 would have a 365.

Dates and codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number – for example, P-1946 223.

Salmonella is an organism, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.

Healthy persons with salmonella often experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with salmonella should contact their health care provider so the proper steps of reporting can be taken.

Health officials emphasized that while seven cases in Minnesota have been linked to the recall, there are potentially many more cases that could be involved.

So far this year, Minnesota has received more reports of salmonella infections of this strain than in previous years, according to Kirk Smith, a foodborne illness supervisor with MDH.

It is estimated that for every confirmed case of salmonella, there are approximately 38 unconfirmed cases.

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