Agriculture's Big Picture
AgWeb Editor Greg Vincent takes a big-picture look at agriculture and current events.
Feeding The Truth...Sort Of
Aug 30, 2010
Last Thursday afternoon, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) held a press conference regarding the massive recall of eggs produced on two Iowa farms. The FDA experts got the media buzzing, me included, when they mentioned (almost in passing) that the same strain of salmonella found in the contaminated eggs matched a strain found in feed from the facilities.
Since then, the media has portrayed the feed as the likely cause of the salmonella. Reports, like this one from the Huffington Post; or, this one from Reuters, have told that there is a direct link from the feed to the stinky eggs.
Certainly sounds like big news, and that has become the big news.
However, with college football kickoff less than a week away (my Cyclones take on Northern Illinois in Thursday night), let me quote ESPN’s Lee Corso: "Not so fast my friends."
"I don’t think it is even the leading hypothesis at this point." Josh Sharfstein, principle deputy commissioner with FDA.
Like, Sharfstein, when I heard salmonella was found in the feed source at the plants, I was alarmed. "I thought well, the feed is before the chickens, so it must be a feed problem. But in fact, the feed facility is at the same location of all these problems. There are multiple ways when we find it in the feed, it could just be part of the general contamination of all these problems."
Dan McChesney, "The feed for these animals goes through a heat treatment before, which is sufficient to kill salmonella. So it really suggests that if there is a problem that is being given to the birds through the feed, is that it’s a recontamination after some processing."
Sharfstein, who originally was not scheduled to be on the call, had to interject midway through the 80 minute press conference. Here’s his description of the investigation, an exchange about the science in question with FDA veterinarian Dan McChesney.