Even if you do not watch the news, like me, you probably have still heard of the recent recall of over half a billion eggs on supermarket shelves in the U.S. due to contamination of salmonella, and over 1400 people have become sick. Is this a wake up call to the FDA, to the commercial egg farmers and to the American public on the egg production practices in this country? Will it change due to this recent outbreak? I hope it does, but I don’t expect it to be too radical.
The Truth Behind Eggs and Salmonella
Salmonella is a serious bacteria that can cause severe sickness and even death. Raw milk and raw eggs have been raised as the culprits of these diseases, but if you take a closer look at the statistics, you will actually see that these healthy products actually make up a very small percentage of salmonella poisoning.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s data, along with data gathered from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), about 2.3 million eggs that are commercially produced each year, out of 69 billion, are contaminated with salmonella.
While we’re on the subject of raw milk (OK, we weren’t, but I’m bringing it up anyway), data from the CDC says that from the years between 1993 to 2006, only 116 illnesses were linked to raw milk. This is 116 out of 76 million food-borne illnesses that are contracted from commercial processed foods, spinach, peanuts, beef, etc. Just something to think about.
That means that 1 out of 30,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella. These numbers were produced from commercial farming practices, mind you, which are known to raise unhealthy chickens with feeds that are high in omega-6 fatty acids (inflammatory and raise the incidence of disease if not balanced), and low in beneficial bacteria.
Organic, free range chickens, however, have a better balance of omega-3’s and omega-6’s, are fed an appropriate diet which helps keep their good bacteria in check, and lay healthier eggs. The risk of salmonella from these eggs, and even other illnesses related to contamination are actually quite lower than the data above.
Unhealthy chickens lay unhealthy eggs. Healthy chickens lay healthy eggs. Having a farm that is free range and organic definitely helps reduce the incidence of salmonella, especially since the chickens are cooped up together which can raise the likelihood of cross-contamination.
Farming Practices in America
It is too bad that many people must suffer in order for “the system” to finally wake up and realize what the problem is. Only two farms have been linked to this massive egg recall, and they were large, commerical factory farms. All the chickens were more than likely fed GMO grains, had high levels of omega-6 fatty acids in their bloods and low levels of beneficial bacteria in their gut to keep them healthy.
Also, the chickens most likely were stuck together with room barely to move. Many vegetarians become vegetarians due to seeing things like this–however there are other ways to raise animals for food, if only for the eggs. In fact, it’s going on all across the country right now.
Elana Amsterdam of Elana’s Pantry has blogged recently about how she has her own chickens, free range, laying eggs right at her feet (in a manner of speaking). In fact, I am noticing a trend among more and more healthy conscious consumers and individuals of getting back in touch with raising their own food.
Heck, if zone restrictions didn’t disallow me from raising my own chickens in my backyard, I would definitely have them back there at this moment. I shall one day. I also have a goal of having my own goats, or maybe just one goat, so my family can have fresh raw goat’s milk every day.
To learn more about modern commercial food processing, I recommend checking out the documentary Food, Inc.
If you want to find a local source for clean, healthy and organic free range eggs, check out LocalHarvest.org.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that the farming practices of the two companies led to the outbreak? Or do you think it was a random accident? You already know how I feel about the subject, but let me hear your thoughts.
This is The Healthy Advocate.
Eggs and Salmonella Risk Analysis – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12022671?dopt=Abstract