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Florida safe from egg recall so far

Recalls are funny things. Today your product isn't on the list. Tomorrow it is.

Only problem is when it comes to food, today you might eat it all, so recalling it tomorrow will be too late.

That said, the recent national egg recall hasn't affected Florida to date.

A half-billion eggs — and counting — in 18 states have been recalled because of the threat of salmonella enteritidis, a bacterium found on and inside eggshells that has left hundreds of people ill.

Part of the problem resulted from restaurants using the contaminated eggs in recipes such as Hollandaise sauce and Caesar salad dressing, which use raw eggs.

It is a good moment to remind consumers about the proper preparation of their eggs. Just know that properly cooking eggs will kill salmonella, if it is present.

Salmonella, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes, "can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems."

The FDA has laid the blame for the egg problem on Iowa egg producers Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.

So where do Florida eggs come from and how have we been immune to a nationwide crisis?

It seems we hatch enough of our own eggs in Florida to keep us from having to bring them in from places like Iowa.

For example, eggs at Publix Supermarkets in Florida come largely from Dover, Indiantown and Gainesville. The Greenwise brand comes from Gainesville.

"Almost all of the eggs that we sell at Publix come from local farms," said Shannon Patten, a spokeswoman for Publix. Some of the eggs sold through the supermarket chain in other states come from New England and the Midwest and are pasteurized, which helps guard against bacteria.

But beware: Not all eggs are pasteurized.

Some hens, like those at Eggland's Best — a supplier for Publix — are vaccinated against salmonella. But the vaccination practice is not consistent across the country. Some egg producers choose not to vaccinate their hens.

Sweetbay Supermarkets generally goes local, too, with eggs from Cal-Maine's operations in Florida.

"Based on where we get our eggs from, it's not an issue for us," said Nicole Lebeau, a spokeswoman for Sweetbay.

Cal-Maine, the nation's largest egg distributor, did buy and sell 9.6 million recalled eggs between April 9 and Aug. 18, but none were delivered to Florida.

"Cal-Maine has been actively monitoring this situation, and, as soon as we learned of the expanded recall, we immediately began notifying the affected customers," Dolph Baker, president of Cal-Maine Foods Inc., said in a prepared statement. "None of the eggs were produced in Cal-Maine's facilities or operations."

But for those of you still not confident in the recall stopping at the Florida line, here's the Edge, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control, to reduce risk of a salmonella enteritidis infection:

• Keep eggs refrigerated at less than 45 degrees at all times.

• Toss out cracked or dirty eggs.

• Wash hands, cooking utensils, and food preparation surfaces after contact with raw eggs.

• Cook eggs until both the white and the yolk are firm, and eat them promptly after cooking.

• Do not keep eggs warm or at room temperature for more than two hours.

• Refrigerate unused or leftover egg-containing foods.

• Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs.

Ivan Penn can be reached at ipenn@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2332.

Florida safe from egg recall so far 08/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, August 26, 2010 8:18am]

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