You have probably heard about the great egg recall of 2010, which has required Wright County Eggs of Galt, Iowa to recall an ever-growing number of shell eggs because of fears of salmonella enteriditis.
An interesting issue here is the non-overlapping jurisdiction of USDA and FDA over eggs in the shell. According to the FDA:
Generally, USDA is responsible for egg safety at what are called breaker plants or egg products processing facilities. In these facilities eggs are broken and pasteurized. FDA is responsible for shell egg safety and egg products once they leave the breaking facility.
The FoodSafety.gov page about safely handling and dealing with eggs is a good place to start for consumers worried about their own eggs.
We also repeat the advice we have collected from previous outbreaks:
- Have a crisis management plan in place.
- Know what you will do when the investigators knock.
- Double check the language in your insurance policy to ensure that it covers the particular facts of a recall. In 2008, Ken blogged about this issue after the tomato outbreak and in 2009 after the peanut recall.
- If you know your products are not affected by the outbreak, publicize this appropriately and ask your trade organization to help with that as well.
- If your products are involved, consider getting criminal law advice as well as advice about civil law responsibilities.
- Reconsider how you choose your suppliers, and what you do to qualify them.
- Publicize whatever is happening on your web page; consumers who hear about your product being recalled may check your web page and don't want to see a sales pitch for the very product subject to recall.
- Review your supply contracts to ensure that you have recourse against someone selling you tainted product, but remember that such entities are unlikely to have adequate resources to make you whole; that is what insurance is for, and also what prevention is for.
- Consider how to publicize the situation to consumers who use different languages.