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Food and Drug Administration investigators are trying to pinpoint the cause of the Salmonella outbreak affecting our nation's egg producers.
So far more than 12100 cases have been reported in 22 states prompting to Iowa farms recalled nearly half a billion pay -- So is there a major security gap in our food supply Patrick McDonough is a Cornell University professor of microbiology.
And one of the nation's foremost experts on Salmonella Howard McGuire is the vice president of government relations for the united egg producers welcome to you both.
I wanna start with you I you know we talk about half a billion eggs and I thought that was a lot -- -- say in fact it's a small proportion of the total output of the industry.
Well that that's correct it's about 1% of the total yearly production.
Of our industry.
About dead we were talking about.
You know hundreds of millions of eggs being produced every single year.
And I guess at the end of the day at Patrick when we look at the Salmonella outbreak were so lucky nobody has died.
But how does this move so quickly to what seems like so many farms how -- so many chickens get infected.
I think on an individual farm there probably aren't that many hands that are infected.
If you follow the biology of the bird.
From the time -- blade and the checks to the bullets to the time they don't want to layer house.
A lot of checks and balances and the funny thing happens during those checks and balances that might prevent.
Contamination of their fear of their environment.
That's how they get infected and and it can spread but but in an individual house are probably aren't all that many birds that are infected -- time.
-- -- -- -- You know it seems to me that hardly anybody regulating this industry that there's really nobody looking over the shoulders of the producers.
They're they're actually here is were fairly heavily regulated I would add to what -- just said.
Pay to keep in mind as we talk about the half billion eggs which is a small percentage of all operate production.
And he's exactly right.
That until FDA completes investigation we won't know exactly which farm or which can house.
Has got the problem.
-- I do that we'll limit much farther.
But when you look at the history of violations of the discuss it did cost her farms look take a look at that right now.
God -- cited over and over and over again 1997.
Safety violations 2000 habitual violator of environmental regulations.
It goes on and on I have seen -- it.
Different kinds of violations.
For those folks.
Howard TU is this common place in the industry it is it normal for egg producers to have lots and lots of violations.
Now it's it's not normal.
And that I'm aware of the violations you're talking about it can't really speak to -- But I do know and to go back to your first question about deregulation.
Were one of the few areas of food production they're actually regulated.
And a continuous excuse me on a regular basis on the far.
So we get look at pretty closely and this last July ninth.
The food and drug administration of the matter of regulation that was pretty strict standards for us on the production of -- legs on the far.
We -- Patrick when you look at those new regulations though.
There's not much behind that -- -- that happened before that.
And and then when you -- -- regulations they're layered on the FDA responsible for the whole led the USDA regulates that held the chickens it's.
It's all confused.
As some states implementing their own self regulatory.
What -- we make of this.
I think they are very safe I think the prior to the July implementation of the new FDA regulation.
Many states had voluntary control programs which did the exact same thing at the FDA program is doing now with the emphasis now is that.
The no longer voluntary but they're mandatory and should be applied to the entire country so I think.
That's a big step ahead by having a mandatory program.
It's -- -- implemented then and I think FDA obviously needs help in doing that.
But I think it's a shared responsibility between.
People to grow the tapes of people that -- retail as far as the -- and and the consumer.
Howard why isn't taken so long for this kind of thorough going regulation to be put in place -- you thing.
Was probably -- good question you know a lot a lot of -- been out of our control.
We've supported that regulation for many years.
Clear back to the Clinton administration if you will have this problem first two rows back in the late eighties early ninety's.
One we discovered -- there's an organism.
That occasionally gets itself inside of -- -- bright and even in the even an infected chicken only occasionally deposits Q cells of the SE organism into that into the eight.
And our industry the united egg producers who I represent.
About 90% of the of the industry.
And individual producers.
People out academia.
State program as we all work together.
To develop controls.
Controls that would.
Eliminate or reduce this programme.
And over the years we get to begin with voluntary with voluntary programs may be one of the best examples -- in Pennsylvania.
-- -- immersed yeah.
You got it it was -- at first and now it's not an issue and.
All rounds practice and I shared you know many other states that we're still looking at regulations for.
Not -- vomiting diarrhea in some cases death Salmonella is very very serious.
Patrick -- you you know we've seen problems with spinach.
The food supply up problematic when it comes to hamburger meat.
What's going on here is -- a fundamental.
Regularly -- -- regulatory disconnect here are they not doing the job.
I think we have even more oversight now than we ever had so I think.
Food supplies self I think very safe compared to the rest of the world and I think.
We have -- food that's why it's part of a CC network of surveillance -- which food borne diseases rapidly attended to.
And then they try to match up.
Food net sites with common.
Denominator as far as strains and they can now do fingerprinting of that criteria so.
We have -- better response now as far as monitoring we have more I think -- -- phenomenon better reporting the fact we're seeing well.
-- I guess we need a whole lot.
More more more better reporting where we're out of time I apologize Patrick and Howard thank you so much thank you.
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