Salmonella Linked to Ungraded Eggs
Restaurants serving and retail outlets selling ungraded, low quality eggs have been linked to a salmonella outbreak in British Columbia.
May 21, 2010 – Restaurants serving and retail outlets selling ungraded, low quality eggs have been linked to a salmonella outbreak in British Columbia.
The BC Centre for Disease Control found that hatching eggs from the U.S. and eggs from unregistered producers are at least part of the cause of a 300-per-cent increase in salmonella enteritidis in B.C.'s lower mainland since 2007.
Physician epidemiologist Eleni Galanis said B.C. has been in the midst of an outbreak for three years. Almost 500 cases of salmonella have been reported in B.C. since 2008. But the real number is likely much, much higher because many cases go unreported.
The cause of the outbreak was difficult to uncover because eggs are so widely consumed. However local health authorities looked for disease clusters and followed them back through possible sources. The investigation found ungraded and broiler hatching eggs being sold in restaurants and retail stores.
“As sick individuals have eaten eggs from many sources, it’s not clear what type may be causing the outbreak. However, the investigation did uncover the use of ungraded and broiler hatching eggs in restaurants and other food service establishments in the Lower Mainland. Eggs used at these places were of poor quality, cracked and dirty,” Galanis said.
Graded eggs come from registered producers who are part of the national Start Clean–Stay Clean program and are cleaned and inspected before being sold. They follow strict standards for cleanliness and are regularly inspected.
It is likely the ungraded eggs are broiler eggs imported into B.C. from the United States. They meet none of the Canadian standards for table eggs.
In 2006, salmonella enteritidis occurred with a frequency of three cases per 100,000 people in B.C., but that rose to 10.2 cases per 100,000 people in 2009.
Salmonella enteritidis causes diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps and takes 12 to 36 hours to appear. Most people recover without treatment. If symptoms persist for longer than a few days or are unusually severe, sick people should see their doctor. People at highest risk include young children, elderly people and those with weak immune systems, the centre for disease control said in a news release.
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