Ariz. sees spike in salmonella seen in egg recall

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PHOENIX -- Arizona has seen more than twice the number of infections caused by the specific salmonella strain associated with millions of recalled eggs since mid-May.

Health Services Department food-borne disease epidemiologist Joli Weiss says investigators haven't been able to determine which infections are normal background and which can be attributed to the recalled eggs.

No deaths have been reported, and a total number of hospitalizations wasn't available.

The state normally sees two to three cases a month, but the number surged to 16 in June.

An Iowa egg producer began recalling eggs on Tuesday and it surged to 380 million on Wednesday.

Eggs affected by the expanded recall were distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and food-service companies in California, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Texas, Georgia, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Iowa, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Oklahoma. These companies distribute nationwide.

Eggs are packaged under the following brand names: Albertsons, Farm Fresh, James Farms, Glenview, Mountain Dairy, Ralphs, Boomsma, Lund, Kemps and Pacific Coast. Eggs are packed in varying sizes of cartons (6-egg cartons, dozen egg cartons, 18-egg cartons, and loose eggs for institutional use and repackaging) with Julian dates ranging from 136 to 229 and plant numbers 1720 and 1942.

Dates and codes can be found stamped on the end of the egg carton or printed on the case label. The plant number begins with the letter P and then the number. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P-1720 223.

Weiss says undercooked eggs or products like homemade salad dressing or mayonnaise that use raw eggs can spread the disease.

Will Humble, the director of Arizona Department of Health Services, said the key is to cook your eggs.

"You don't have to be concerned if you cook your eggs," Humble said. 'The bottom line is eggs are not a ready-to-eat food. It's a food that you should cook. If you scramble them or hard-boil them ... you don't need to check the dates or the source or anything. If you have hard-boiled, enjoy your hard-boiled egg."

According to Humble, those who have contracted salmonella poisoning probably did not cook their eggs enough.

"The real public-health message is, 'Look, cook your eggs!'" he said.

While Albertsons and Lucerne are both listed as brands that are affected by the recall, stores that carry those brands here in Arizona do not get their eggs from the Iowa facility that's at the center of all of this.

Consumers who believe they may have purchased these shell eggs should not eat them but should return them to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. This recall is of shell eggs only. Other egg products produced by Wright County Eggs are not affected.

Consumers with questions should visit www.EggSafety.org or call Wright County's toll-free information number, 1-866-272-5582, which contains a message outlining recall instructions for consumers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.