Many egg producers still not complying with food-sanitation rules
By Mattea Kramer, Saturday, October 1, 8:51 AM
Two-tenths of a penny per dozen. That’s what it costs Pennsylvania farmers to make eggs safer. By disinfecting henhouses, trapping rodents and testing regularly for harmful bacteria, the state’s egg farmers have cut the presence of salmonella by more than half.
But egg producers in much of the rest of the country haven’t followed suit. Last summer, two large Iowa producers recalled 500 million salmonella-tainted eggs — the largest egg recall in history. More than 1,900 people nationwide grew sick, causing alarm for consumers.
Millions of Americans suffer from foodborne illness each year. Michael Batz, head of food safety programs at the University of Florida’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, calculates the cost of salmonella-contaminated eggs at $370 million a year. Salmonellosis is an infection that causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Batz factors in missed work, medical bills, victims’ assessments of how their illness harmed them (called “quality-adjusted life”) and premature deaths.
The non-monetary loss is also substantial. An estimated 115,000 people suffer this type of food poisoning each year, resulting in 42 fatalities, according to his estimates.