Report Shows Rodents & Poor Sanitation at Farm Tied to Multistate Salmonella Outbreak


An FDA inspection at Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County Farm found rodents, insects, and poor sanitation shortly before the announcement of the multistate Salmonella outbreak.

As the investigation into the ongoing multistate outbreak of Salmonella Braenderup infections linked to contaminated eggs from Rose Acre Farms continues, information pertaining to inspector observations shared with the complex manager previous to the outbreak announcement has come to light.

FDA Form 483 was issued to management after an inspection was conducted at Rose Acre Farms’ Hyde County Egg located at 1560 Hyde Park Canal Road in Pantego, North Carolina, from March 26, 2018 to April 11, 2018, and the investigator found several objectionable conditions which included several rodents, insects, and poor sanitation.

Following this inspection, on April 13, 2018, Rose Acre Farms issued a recall of over 200 million shell eggs that had been produced at Hyde County Egg. Three days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that there was an outbreak of associated illness in several states. Three days after that, the agency reported a total of 23 individuals have fallen ill across 9 states, 6 of whom required hospitalization for their infections.

Among the observations cited by representatives from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), was the fact that pest control records dating back to September 2017 suggest ongoing rodent infestation at the farm. Furthermore, it was noted that any corrective actions taken by the farm were deemed ineffective in resolving the issue.

FDA representatives noted that on March 27, 2018, they found live rodents in Houses 2, 6, 10, and 11, with rodents observed while walking rows during swab collection. In House 10, “approximately 4 to 5 apparent live rodents in the pit were observed near the staging table and several were observed while dragging swabs, in the pit area,” the report reads. “More than 10 apparent rodents were observed in the pit staging area, including baby mice.”

In addition to rodent infestation, an insect issue was also observed. The representative noted “a large spill/pile of what appeared to be feed with large flying insects too numerous to count between house numbers 10 and 11, directly beside the canal.”

FDA representatives also observed unsanitary conditions and poor employee practices in the egg processing facility itself, which “creates an environment that allows for the harborage, proliferation, and spread of filth and pathogens throughout the facility,” and could, in turn, easily result in the contamination of the egg processing equipment along with the eggs produced.

Appropriate cleaning procedures were not being performed by either management or employees, according to the report. In fact, employees were observed doing the following:

  • Placing buffers that come into contact with food onto the dirty floor, pallets, and other equipment before placing the equipment into service
  • Touching non-food surfaces (such as their face, intergluteal cleft, and trash cans) and then touching the egg products and other surfaces the eggs came into contact with without changing gloves or washing their hands

Condensation dripping from ceilings, piping, and down the walls on to the production equipment was also observed, with water “pooling on floors in foot traffic and forklift pathways.”

According to the FDA, the egg products were distributed to the US Virgin Islands and as well as internationally to United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong, Bahamas, Haiti, Aruba (Netherlands), Cayman Islands, and others.

The investigation is ongoing, and the FDA and CDC will update the public as more information becomes available.

For the most recent case counts associated with the multistate Salmonella Braenderup outbreak linked to shell eggs, be sure to check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.

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