Prior to Massive Egg Recall, FDA Refused to Mandate Vaccinating Hens

Thursday, August 26, 2010

In 1997, the United Kingdom

began having its farmers vaccinate chickens for salmonella. The result: Cases of food poisoning from Salmonella Enteritidis PT4 went down from 14,771 to 581 over 12 years, a 96% decline.
U.S. regulators could have required the same vaccination for American farmers, but chose not to, claiming there was a lack of scientific evidence to order the change. The cost would have amounted to less than a penny per dozen eggs.
Instead, consumers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are dealing with one of the largest egg recalls in U.S. history—550 million eggs, all from two Iowa producers, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. Both companies say they were already vaccinating most of their hens, but they were not separating those hens from the unvaccinated ones.
Thousands of people so far have become sick from eating eggs contaminated with salmonella. The FDA estimates that 142,000 Americans suffer from egg-related salmonella each year.
In addition to not requiring the vaccinations, the FDA also declined to require regular testing of chickens for contamination, cleanliness standards for henhouses and refrigeration requirements, all of which were part of a set of new regulations that were under consideration only recently. Neither Wright County Egg nor Hillandale Farms had ever been inspected by the FDA.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
U.S. Rejected Hen Vaccine Despite British Success (by William Neuman, New York Times)


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