Salmonella Outbreak Hikes Egg Prices

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The massive egg recall has restaurants across the country literally scrambling as the number of Americans sickened by bad eggs is expected to rise.

Even if consumers choose not to eat out, the price of eggs in supermarkets is expected to increase.

Restaurant waiters and waitresses across the country have been answering questions from patrons who want to know if its safe to order eggs.

When their customers order eggs over easy, many restaurants are pointing out long-standing warnings on their menus about the dangers of under-cooked foods.

Restaurants can sometimes be breeding grounds for salmonella outbreaks. If multiple eggs are cracked into one container, one bad egg can taint the whole batch.

Health officials suggest the safest way to order your eggs is scrambled.

"If the eggs are properly cooked, and that means that the whites would be cooked, the yolks would be cooked and firm," Dr. Mary Jo Stokes said. "In most cases, if there is a contamination with salmonella, that organism would be pretty much killed."

Consumers can expect to start paying more for a carton of eggs at the store.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, wholesale prices of eggs have jumped since the recall.

One example occurred in the New York market. Before the recall, the wholesale price on a dozen eggs was 89 to 93 cents. Now the same dozen costs $1.27 to $1.31 -- a 40 percent increase.

Investigators continue combing the two Iowa farms they believe produced the salmonella-infected eggs that have sickened as many as 1,300 people.

"They may have to look at the chicken, and the eggs, at the chicken litter, the feed, the dirt, workers boots, processing equipment, fan blades many things could be a source of contamination," said William Hubbard, former Associate Commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration.

More than 500 million eggs from the two farms have been recalled, affecting 23 states. Health officials expect even more Americans to become sick from eating tainted eggs.

"There are hundreds of millions in each one of these dark circles that you see," said Dr. Mansour Samadpour, microbiologist. "It takes anywhere between less than 100 to about 10,000 cells to make someone sick."

A Centers for Disease Control official said the investigation process has become more streamlined. In the past, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, CDC and FDA would all do their own investigations. Now they work together.

For more egg safety information, click here or call the Egg Safety Consumer Hotline at 1-866-272-5582.

For more on salmonella poisoning, visit the Centers for Disease Control.

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