CLEVELAND, April 17, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- On April 13, Rose Acre Farms recalled more than 200 million shell eggs after at least 22 illnesses were linked to eggs from its farm in North Carolina. Eggs included in the recall may be contaminated with a dangerous strain of Salmonella and have made their way to consumers in 10 states. This represents the largest food safety incident involving eggs since 2010, when over 550 million eggs were recalled after a nationwide Salmonella outbreak sickened thousands.
According to Freedonia analyst Cara Brosius, regulations that require food safety procedures are leading to quicker identification of contaminated products. "Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, which has compliance dates staggered through 2022, food companies are required to focus on prevention of food safety incidents such as this latest Salmonella outbreak. In many cases, increased diagnostic testing, sanitation practices, and traceability efforts can allow problems to be spotted before contaminated food makes its way to consumers."
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However, the risk of unsafe products reaching consumers still exists. "This recall is unsurprising, even though eggs are frequently tested for Salmonella. Farms and processing plants use disinfectants and sanitizers to prevent the spread of dangerous pathogens, but raw, whole shell eggs are not commonly pasteurized in the US," says Brosius. "Pasteurization of raw eggs in a hot water bath can greatly reduce the chances of Salmonella contamination, but only processed egg products such as liquid egg whites must be pasteurized under current USDA regulations."
Food safety products used by the food industry and the government are seeing a number of innovations. The FDA learned about a cluster of Salmonella outbreaks last month and was able to trace the source of the illnesses to the egg farm in North Carolina. Investigators inspected the farm and collected samples for diagnostic testing, which revealed the same strain of Salmonella that caused the illnesses. Brosius notes, "Rapid diagnostic testing technology already allows faster results than previously possible, and tests are only getting better. In the future, blockchain technology is expected to be used with recordkeeping in conjunction with smart labels and tags that track food products throughout the supply chain. This technology could allow the government and food producers to trace the source of an illness much more quickly, leading to faster recalls."
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