08/26/2010 - The recent problems with salmonella-contaminated eggs is a reminder of how much more needs to be done to keep dangerous germs out of the American food supply. The Food and Drug Administration should urge egg producers to vaccinate their hens promptly. The Senate must pass long-stalled legislation that could strengthen the hand of regulators to prevent and control outbreaks of all food-related illnesses.
An article by William Neuman in The Times this week highlighted how vaccinating British hens virtually eliminated the health threat from salmonella-infected eggs. Some 1,500 Americans have been sickened in recent weeks and the F.D.A. announced Thursday that investigators had found the salmonella bacteria in barns and chicken feed at the two farms that are the source of the tainted eggs.
The agency issued a tough new egg safety rule last year that only took effect on July 9, after this outbreak had started. The rule has many good provisions mandating control measures that producers must take, but it shied away from requiring that hens be vaccinated. The agency said that while vaccines had been shown to work in laboratory experiments, there was insufficient data to judge how they would work in real world conditions.
Read the full editorial, The Egg Scare and Beyond on The New York Times' Web site.