The general manager of a western Iowa egg production facility says security measures are in place to help prevent contamination of their eggs from salmonella. Rich Hall of the Southwest Iowa Egg Cooperative in Massena says concerns about food safety and their employees’ health, prompted the company to change its bio-security plan. It means public tours of the facility, which had been permitted since the plant opened in 1999, are no longer allowed.

“We also produce our pullets under the National Pullet Improvement Plan, so all of our pullets are actually vaccinated for salmonella and then they are tested negative for salmonella before they ever come to Southwest Iowa Egg Cooperative,” he says. Pullets are chickens that are less than a year old. In addition, the eggs which are collected from the laying hens at Hall’s facilities are immediately put into a refrigerated area.

“As they are picked up almost on a daily basis to go to different markets, we actually require that they maintain the temperature of the eggs at 45 degrees,” Hall says, “which protects the integrity of the egg.” Hall’s operation has a veterinarian stop by at least once a month and, if the F.D.A. requires it, they conduct more frequent and more extensive testing of the birds and their eggs. Over half-a-billion eggs have been the subject of a nationwide recall, eggs that came from two producers in north central Iowa and are connected to a salmonella outbreak.

“Hopefully the F.D.A. will do their job and they will come out where the problems were identified and then all egg producers will analyze that and look at the information, and if we need to make management changes for the safety and wholesomeness for the egg products, we will,” Hall says. Regardless of where eggs may come from, Hall says consumers need to keep raw eggs refrigerated, and cook eggs thoroughly.

Residents in Cedar Rapids may soon be gathering eggs from their backyards. The City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance which allows people within the Cedar Rapids city limits to raise up to six hens in a fenced area in their yard. The odor from the hen houses is not to be “perceptible” to neighbors.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic