Factory Farming and the Recall of a Half a Billion Eggs

August 23rd, 2010 by Heather Pritchard

The latest round of recalls because of a salmonella break out underlines some of the major issues surrounding factory farming. Much of it has to do with the fact that they are not only a breeding ground for terrible conditions which allow for such an outbreak, but that they supply so much food to so many.

Factory Farming and Salmonella
The recalled eggs were all from one farm, Wright County Egg. The owner of the Iowa farm, Jack DeCoster was said to provide “morally repugnant” working conditions and was a “habitual violator” of environmental laws according to prosecutors and regulators in the area.

But this is really no surprise. I’ve written about factory farming and the unbridled spread of disease before. According to the National Academy of Sciences, roughly 70 percent of the antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs used in the U.S. are fed to farm animals not only to promote growth but to prevent rampant disease from striking animals that are kept in filthy, stressful environments. In fact, many common bacteria including salmonella and a few other culprits like Campylobacter, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and E. coli) have even developed a resistance to these drugs.


When you have local eggs, or even better, your own backyard chickens, you don’t have to worry about such issues (and no, chickens are not dirty or loud and many more cities should allow them).

And the media is catching on!

Recalled Eggs List: Blame Factory Farms for Salmonella Outbreak?

Dr. Marion Nestle of the department of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University, and the author of “Food Politics” and “What to Eat”, is a member of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production. She toured several factory farms last year.

“It’s hard to explain unless you actually see one of these places,” she tells CBS News. “Try to imagine an enormous warehouse, as long as two or more city blocks, packed with hundreds of thousands of chickens. And that’s ‘free range.’ Otherwise they are caged six to nine in a cage. If one gets sick, they all get sick.”

Federal officials say the current outbreak is likely to grow. That’s because illnesses occurring after mid-July may not be reported yet, says Dr. Christopher Braden, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This egg disaster goes hand-in-hand with industrial food production, some experts insist.

Years ago, communities would get eggs from nearby farms, so any outbreaks would be geographically localized, says Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Today, if there is a problem in some early stage in the distribution chain, it spreads quickly over a very large geographic area and involves a very large number of people, he says.

Please be aware of where your eggs have come from, here is how you can check your eggs to see if they are part of the recall.

And there is an alternative, you can buy from your local farmer’s market, and if your city allows, even have your own chickens.  Many of our local stores carry eggs that are humanely harvested, not factory farmed and more locally produced.

And part of our education outreach and our potluck even, our Slow Food Chair, Heather Stoltzfus, is going to share her life with chickens.

General Membership Meeting and Potluck
Caring for City Chickens
September 12, 4pm
626 W. Culver Avenue, Orange
Join Slow Food Orange County Chair Heather Stoltzfus at her home to learn about the ins and outs of urban chicken keeping. If you’ve been thinking about keeping chickens in the city, come meet Chickadee, Kerfufle and Drumstick and get your questions answered. This potluck will also kick off the 2010-2011 calendar year and you will not want to miss this change to hear is in store in the coming months and give your input for the future of SFOC.

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