An Indiana-based company has recalled more than 206 million eggs over reports of illness related to a strain of salmonella.
Rose Acre Farms of Seymour, Indiana, issued the voluntary recall Friday of eggs produced from its Hyde County, North Carolina farm after an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration traced the rare strain back to the farm.
The eggs are sold under multiple brand names, including Coburn Farms, Country Daybreak, Food Lion, Glenview, Great Value, Nelms, and Sunshine Farms. Recalled eggs were also sold to restaurants, according to the FDA.
Salmonella Braenderup is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Healthy individuals infected with Salmonella Braenderup can experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
As of Monday, 23 people have become sick, the Center for Disease Control reported.
Six people have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
The illnesses were first reported March 5, but a recall wasn't issued until April 13.
The FDA began investigating the Hyde County farm on March 26 and confirmed the farm was the likely source of the outbreak salmonella strain April 11.
In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella Braenderup can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.
The eggs were distributed from the farm in Hyde County, North Carolina, and reached consumers in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia through retail stores and restaurants via direct delivery, according to the FDA.
A call to Rose Acre Farms in Indiana for comment was referred to Gene Grabowski, a partner at the Washington D.C.-based public relations firm, KGlobal.
Grabowski released a statement from the company, which in part stated:
Some of the reported illnesses were linked to grocery stores where Rose Acre Farms does not supply eggs at all. Nevertheless, the company conducted the recall out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing everything possible to preserve the trust we have built with consumers and their families for many decades.
The Hyde County farm has never before experienced a recall or serious safety violation. The recall was conducted in full cooperation with the FDA and we look forward to getting the Hyde County farm back in operation as soon as possible. For now, the North Carolina farm has halted delivery of all shell eggs, but Rose Acre is working on a 24-hour basis to fill customer orders from its other facilities around the country.
According to government records, the Hyde County egg farm was fined $10,000 on January 4, 2017, by the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration for two serious violations. The fine was later settled for $5,000.
On March 7, 2017, OSHA cited the farm $5,000 for one serious violation, which was later settled for $2,500.
"Like many businesses and farms across the U.S., we have had to correct past issues under OSHA regulations. In every case, including the two cited from last year, we have done so cooperatively and in the spirit of making our facilities better and safer workplaces for our employees," the company said in response.
The recall is the second largest in recent years.
In 2010, more than 550 million eggs were recalled from a Galt, Iowa, farm owned by Austin "Jack" DeCoster. Nearly 2,000 people were sickened from the nationwide salmonella outbreak, although an estimated 56,000 people were affected.
DeCoster and his son, Peter, were ordered to serve three months in federal prison and pay $100,000 each. Their family company, Quality Egg, was fined $6.8 million.
In its case against the company, federal officials said the company's commissioned salmonella tests of its hen houses and chickens came back positive 47 percent of the days tests were conducted.
The company was also accused of falsifying documents for food safety audits and gave cash bribes to federal inspectors at least twice.
Anna Casey contributed to this story.
This story was updated at 6:40 p.m.