WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration is planning to inspect all of the country’s largest egg farms before the end of next year following the massive recall that has sickened as many as 1,500 people.
An Obama administration official said inspectors will visit about 600 large egg farms that produce 80 percent of the nation’s eggs. This will be the first government effort to inspect large egg farms, as most of them have gone largely uninspected for decades.
The FDA’s plan for heightened inspections came after more than half a billion eggs linked to cases of salmonella poisoning were recalled from two Iowa farms this month. The inspections will be conducted as part of new FDA rules put in place this July to prevent salmonella in shell eggs.
The inspections will begin in September with the farms deemed highest risk to consumer safety, the official said. The new inspection plan covers all egg farms that have 50,000 or more hens.
The FDA will also be adjusting the training of the agency’s inspectors based on findings from the ongoing investigations at Iowa’s Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, the two farms linked to the salmonella outbreak, the official said.
The aim of the inspections, and the new egg rules, is to prevent an outbreak. In the past, the government has traditionally only inspected egg facilities, along with many other types of farms, after there is an outbreak. The FDA said it has not inspected either of the two Iowa farms despite at least one of the companies’ long history of health, safety, environmental and immigration violations.
When on the farms, inspectors will be looking for safety violations that could increase the chance of salmonella entering the egg supply.