Watching a recent news report that more than 500 million eggs recalled for potential salmonella contamination have been traced to two Iowa farms, Laurie Neader knew that's one thing her family doesn't have to worry about.
For the last five or six years, the Neaders, who live along Mount Tom Road in Marietta Township, have been raising their own chickens and enjoying the benefits of fresh eggs every day.
"We have about 15 layers now, and they provide about a dozen eggs a day," Neader said. "And we keep them year-round.
Brett and Brooke Neader raise chickens and the family eats the eggs.
"We started out just having some chicks for Easter, but our two kids (Brooke, 12, and Brett, 14) have joined 4-H and raise chickens for the county fair," she said.
Neader said the family doesn't sell their eggs, although they occasionally share them with friends.
But she added that the chickens, and their eggs, are well cared for.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Brooke Neader, 12, of Marietta Township, and her brother raise chickens for 4-H and the family eats the eggs they lay.
"If we don't get eggs out of the nest the same day they're laid, we give them to our cats or dogs - it's good for their coats," Neader said. "We always wash and dry the eggs we'll use before we put them away, and I rotate the eggs in the refrigerator so we know which ones are the freshest."
She said the chicken barn is cleaned often and new bedding is put down.
"If you don't keep the areas clean, it's easy for chickens and eggs to become contaminated," Neader said. "We just keep the facilities cleaned and collect the eggs daily."
Handle eggs safely
Buy eggs only if sold from a refrigerator or refrigerated case.
Open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and the shells are not cracked.
Store eggs in their original carton and use them within 3 weeks for best quality.
Before preparing any food, remember that cleanliness is key.
Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods,
Thorough cooking is perhaps the most important step in making sure eggs are safe.
Cook eggs until both the yolk and the white are firm. Scrambled eggs should not be runny.
Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 160 degrees Farenheit (72 degreesC). Use a food thermometer to be sure.
For recipes that call for eggs that are raw or undercooked when the dish is served-Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream are two examples-use either shell eggs that have been treated to destroy Salmonella, or another approved method, or pasteurized egg products.
Treated shell eggs are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labeled, while pasteurized egg products are widely available.
The Neaders are right, according to Eric Barrett, Ohio State University Extension agriculture educator. He said home-grown eggs take special care.
"Only get eggs out of the nest, don't pick up any off the floor of the facility, and keep the nesting areas clean," he said. "It's also recommended to wash or sanitize the eggs, then refrigerate them immediately."
Barrett said eggs can be cleaned with a commercially available sanitizer or a bleach and water mixture, but they should never be submerged in water or sanitizer as eggs are porous and can absorb liquids. He also said consumers should not wash eggs when they bring them home because it can remove a natural protective covering on the shell.
"Eggs must be used within three to five weeks - look for the 'use by' date on the carton," Barrett said. "And an egg must be cooked at 140 degrees for 3.5 minutes to kill salmonella."
Knowing where your eggs are coming from is also important, he said, noting that there are many local people who sell "farm-fresh eggs."
"These are locally grown eggs, but they're usually not inspected, so the buyer has to beware," Barrett said. "Ask if the eggs have been sanitized and how long they've been out of the nest. And know where the eggs are coming from - someone you can trust."
At least some of the more than 500 million eggs recalled from stores nationwide for possible salmonella contamination came from Walmart stores in the Marietta area, a company spokesperson said Tuesday.
"Four of Walmart's egg suppliers (Sparboe Farms, Dean Foods, Hillandale Farms and Cal-Maine Foods) and one Sam's Club supplier (NuCal Foods) announced recalls of eggs that were sourced from or linked to Wright County Eggs," a company release stated.
The contaminated eggs have been traced to Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, both located in Iowa.
"As soon as we have been notified, we have promptly pulled the eggs from our stores' shelves. These recalls have affected nearly 630 Walmart stores in 20 states" (including Ohio and West Virginia), the release said.
The company said its Great Value brand is not impacted by the recall, and that WalMart customers who suspect they may have eggs associated with the recall should return them to a local store for verification.
Giant Eagle spokesman Mike Duffy said that company had no problems with the recall.
"Giant Eagle is not affected by the egg recall because we do not carry the impacted product," he said.
Area Kroger stores are not listed among facilities affected by the egg recall on the company's website.
Warren's IGA on Muskingum Drive also doesn't carry the recalled eggs, but manager Mike Morrison noted that he's seen a decline in egg sales of late.
"It's nothing really drastic yet, but some people have brought eggs back," he said. "Also, we do sell the Hillandale brand of eggs, but they're not from Iowa, these come from West Virginia or Ohio. I wish the media would make that clear."
Morrison said he expects egg prices will eventually be affected by the recall.
Matt Spindler from Sponey's IGA in Beverly said none of the eggs in his store are affected by the recall.
"We've been reassuring our customers and haven't seen a drop in our egg sales," he said.
Barrett said one way to ensure eggs are not contaminated is to use "pasteurized" egg products - like Egg Beaters, in which the egg is removed from the shell and yolks are separated from egg whites.