Eggs: Contaminated With Feces

Eggs: Contaminated With Feces

When you eat animal products, you’re signing up to eat poop. Here is a recent example of poopy products. From the FDA:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — March 20, 2009 — den Dulk Poultry Farms of Ripon CA. is voluntarily recalling their Organic brown eggs as a precaution because the eggs have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.

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 infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. [...]

The recalled eggs were distributed to Costco and Safeway in Northern California, as far South as Fresno, and in western Nevada.

And from the CDC:

Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal. Contaminated foods are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk, or eggs, but any food, including vegetables, may become contaminated [through cross-contamination]. Thorough cooking kills Salmonella. Food may also become contaminated by the hands of an infected food handler who did not wash hands with soap after using the bathroom. [...]

Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be thirty or more times greater [or 1.2 million cases of salmonellosis in the US each year]. Salmonellosis is more common in the summer than winter.

Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. The rate of diagnosed infections in children less than five years old is about five times higher than the rate in all other persons. Young children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised are the most likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that approximately 400 persons die each year with acute salmonellosis. [emphasis added]

The CDC warns to cook animal products properly, never to eat raw eggs, and to avoid cross-contamination. The thing is, those warnings would prevent salmonella poisoning 100%. So why issue a recall of contaminated eggs when the problem could be prevented by the consumer?

Because the consumer doesn’t realize the risk is so great. The consumer doesn’t take enough preventive measures. The consumer winds up killing the people they feed.

Remember who dies from salmonella? It’s “young children, frail or elderly people” or said another way, it’s people who have the little choice to choose healthier foods. They are the babies and children who require parental care. They are the sick and frail in hospitals and nursing homes. They don’t make a free choice to accept the risks associated with eating animal products.

5 Responses to Eggs: Contaminated With Feces

  1. “Remember who dies from salmonella? It’s “young children, frail or elderly people” or said another way, it’s people who have the little choice to choose healthier foods. They are the babies and children who require parental care. They are the sick and frail in hospitals and nursing homes. They don’t make a free choice to accept the risks associated with eating animal products.”

    As the article noted, ANY foods, including vegetables, can be contaminated with salmonella. Babies, children, and the institutionalized are at risk, not only because they have little to no menu choice, but also because they have no control over the conditions in which their food is prepared. The same is true of those who eat restaurant food–that is, almost all of us. And many who prepare their own food are not as careful as they might be about food handling.

    Vegans should not be complacent about food safety. Raw salad veggies, in particular, have frequently been implicated in salmonella breakouts. If veggies–and fruits–are not thoroughly washed before consumption, they may carry contamination acquired in the fields, during picking, transport, or at the store. If the fruits and veggies are prepared by people (in restaurants or at home) whose hands are not clean or who are not wearing gloves, again contamination may occur.

    Home cooks can and should be scrupulous about washing both their hands and their produce, but who knows what is lurking in the containers at the local salad bar? Obviously most commercial food handlers observe good sanitation and hygiene practices; otherwise we’d all be sick all the time. But simply adhering to a vegan diet is not a fool-proof protection against salmonella, and vegans should not develop a false sense of security simply because they do not eat animal products. Any food, even mothers’ breast milk, can become affected by any number of contaminants, so food safety is everyone’s concern.

  2. LOL, the difference is that animal products are inherently dangerous whereas plant products are not.

    Plants, when contaminated by feces, are contaminated by careless humans or by wild animals. Meat, however, when contaminated by feces, is often contaminated during slaughter because when the animal is killed, his or her feces from her intestines leak out and contaminate the flesh (aka “meat”). Similarly, egg contamination is so common that raw eggs are considered a health hazard.

    Simply put, the food poisoning risks from animal foods are MUCH greater than the risks from eating plants.

    But of course you’re correct that everyone, including vegans, should be careful about food preparation. Wash your fruits and veggies, people! And wash your hands after you go tot he bathroom or change your kiddo’s diapers :)

  3. Yes, everyone should guard against food-borne illness.

    However, if we had a lot less animal agriculture in this country, we’d also have a lot less food-borne illness. Just another (of zillions) of arguments against animal agriculture.

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  4. Of course, plants do not have their own feces as animals do, but most (not all) animal foods are cooked to the degree that the salmonella is killed. OTOH fruits and veggies are frequently eaten raw, so that pathogenic microbes can be alive and ready to cause trouble at the time of consumption. Salad bars are a good thing in that they feature a wide variety of nutritious veggies and fruit, appetizingly presented. But they have also been the source of numerous salmonella outbreaks. My point is not to argue that plant foods are more likely to harbor salmonella than animal foods, but simply to point out that eliminating animal foods from one’s diet does not eliminate the risk of food poisoning In the end, eating a salad or fresh fruit cup contaminated by a careless food handler or by rodent feces in a restaurant kitchen will make you just as sick as eating an insufficiently cooked chicken contaminated by its own feces. If you don’t eat animal foods you will not be sickened by contaminated animal foods, but you have to eat something, and that something, whether it is lettuce or jalapenos or peanuts or whatever, can make you sick if care is not taken all the way from the growing plant to your plate. I have seen many vegans write to the effect that, “I don’t eat meat, dairy, or eggs, so I don’t have to worry about food poisoning,” but that is a denial of the fact that plant foods can cause illness, and not just from salmonella.

    We are, I think, in complete agreement that care must be taken in food preparation no matter what, because a vegan diet does not confer immunity to food-borne illness.

  5. Just had to say great post! Enjoyed reading it. I don’t comment much, but just had to say, “It’s great that you are getting this information out to the public eye”. Very informative. Keep up the good work! Thanks for the insight and will check back…
    .-= Todd´s last blog ..abdominal pain hsp =-.


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