Egg recall expands to another farm in Iowa

Stay away from uncooked eggs, health officials warned Friday, as a nationwide recall expanded to a second Iowa farm linked to the investigation of a salmonella outbreak.

Hillandale Farms in Iowa said it's recalling eggs in 14 states, including Texas.

More than a half-billion eggs have now been recalled.

No deaths have been reported, but nearly 2,000 illnesses from the strain of salmonella linked to the recalls were reported between May and July.

An unusually high number of salmonella infections have been reported nationwide this summer: 1,953 cases this year compared with about 700 typically reported.

In Texas, 165 cases have been reported since mid-May, six times the average number of salmonella illnesses.

"Most states are reporting a fourfold increase," said Christine Mann, spokeswoman for the Department of State Health Services. "In Texas, it's at least that."

Hillandale Farms said it was recalling more than 170 million eggs after laboratory tests confirmed salmonella. The company did not say if its action was connected to the recall by Wright County Egg, another Iowa farm that recalled 380 million eggs earlier this week. The latest recall puts the total number of potentially tainted eggs at about 550 million.

FDA spokeswoman Pat El-Hinnawy said the two recalls are related. The strain of salmonella bacteria causing the poisoning is the same in both cases, salmonella enteritidis.

Federal officials say it's one of the largest egg recalls in recent history. Americans consume about 220 million eggs a day, based on industry estimates. Iowa is the leading egg producing state.

The new recall applies to eggs sold between April and August and distributed under the brand names Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, Sunny Meadow, Wholesome Farms and West Creek.

Hillandale said the eggs were distributed to grocery distribution centers, retail groceries and food service companies which service or are located in Arkansas, California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Federal health officials said the number of illnesses related to the outbreak is expected to increase because illnesses occurring after mid-July may not be reported yet.

Tarrant County has had 13 confirmed cases of salmonella enteritidis, the strain associated with the outbreak. Since January, there have been 97 cases of all kinds of salmonella but only 13 related to this specific culture, said Dr. Anita Kurian, chief epidemiologist for Tarrant County Public Health.

In all 13 cases, the individuals who became ill had been exposed to eggs or egg products, she said.

"Taking into account all the evidence we have, consumption of raw or undercooked eggs seem to be the likely cause of these illnesses," she said.

Statewide, salmonella cases have been reported in 41 counties, but it's not known whether all or some of those cases are directly linked to the recall, Mann said.

"It is reasonable to assume that some of the cases are related to the recall, but at this time we don't have a definitive link," she said.

Health officials are encouraging the public to make sure that their eggs are properly cooked.

Several grocery shoppers at the Super Walmart on North Beach Street near Keller said they are not worried about the recall.

Benny Bridges of Fort Worth said he always carefully checks his eggs before using them.

At the Egg and I restaurant in Dallas, sales are on the increase, said Steve Kirtley, store manager.

"It's business as usual for us," he said.

Staff writer Aman Batheja contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.

Jan Jarvis, 817-390-7664