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FDA Warns Iowa Egg Farm for Salmonella

FDA Warns Iowa Egg Farm for Salmonella

September 10, 2012 — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent a warning letter to an Iowa egg farm after finding Salmonella bacteria during inspections. Centrum Valley Farms is under strict government oversight after being linked to an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning in 2010. That outbreak sickened approximately 2,000 people and led to the recall of 500 million eggs throughout the United States.

In a statement issued to the Associated Press, Centrum Valley Farms said that government inspectors from the FDA detected salmonella in two of six poultry houses. The contamination was discovered during routine inspections in May. The presence of the bacteria does not mean that any eggs were contaminated, but the company voluntarily withdrew several lots of eggs until they tested negative for salmonella four times.

The warning letter dated August 14, said that FDA is concerned about the presence of Salmonella heidelberg (SH) in the poultry houses. According to John W. Thorsky, Director of the Kansas City District of the FDA, “SH has caused several egg-associated outbreaks resulting in human illness and at times death. Given this body of evidence, FDA considers SH within a poultry house environment to be a public health threat.” The FDA was also concerned about deficiencies in testing for salmonella within the poultry houses.

Centrum Valley Farms said that they have already taken corrective actions, and “Providing safe, high-quality eggs to Centrum Valley Farms customers is our obligation.” The FDA noted that Centrum Valley Farms has been working with the FDA to address the salmonella contamination. The company has also agreed to several improvements, and the FDA will look for these improvements during the next inspection.

Centrum Valley Farms took over the egg facility in 2010, replacing Jack DeCoster, who owned the plant during a massive salmonella outbreak that sickened an estimated 2,000 people. DeCoster had a long history of food safety, labor, and environmental violations in state and federal law going back to 1996.

Salmonella food poisoning causes a gastrointestinal illness called “salmonellosis.” Symptoms include sudden diarrhea that may be watery or bloody, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, muscle aches, fever, and more. Healthy adults typically recover within one week, but salmonellosis can be deadly in rare cases. The most vulnerable people are children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with a suppressed immune system.

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