Farming Practices

Turkey on the farm Happy Chickens Moroccan Donkey

Information about what farmers do and how it affects your dinner. This inculdes details on how plants are grown and harvested, how animals are fed and raised, and how dairy products are produced.


Egg Filled Ruminations

I have been trying to learn about the egg industry again since the salmonella outbreak in August of 2010.  It was a big recall.  The New York Times declared it the largest egg recall in history.  Yet, most of the coverage I found focused on how the FDA failed to discover the salmonella contamination before it became a big problem and how much time it took them to pinpoint the source of the salmonella.

The Washington Post just wrote a long article blaming much of the problem on the lack of communication between the FDA and the USDA because they are each responsible for a small part of the "egg production and distribution process." They make some valid claims; however, they make no mention of the fact that salmonella only became a large problem when hen houses became overcrowded and/or when they began using tiny cages.  They also don’t mention if the prevalence of Salmonella seems to have spiked when standards for chicken feed and hen-house cleanliness were reduced for the sake of increased profits. 

I suspect there may be a link between these changes and the outbreak, but more studies need to be done.  Just to be clear, I can not declare that industrial agriculture is the problem or say that Organic eggs are the answer either.  There has not been a salmonella outbreak in Organic eggs that I could find records of, but that doesn’t mean that it cannot or will not happen. There are many potential sources for salmonella contamination and it is difficult to pin-point one as the most likely culprit to blame as the change that caused the increased prevalence of salmonella.

Was the salmonella caused by overcrowding?  Is better management of large operations the solution?  An article in NY Times says it might be. 

This last outbreak was linked to feed of pullets. So, is the problem in the feed? Another article in the NY Times talks about the role feed played in the outbreak.

I’ll be looking into it. 



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