Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Backyard Poultry | CDC

In This Article:

  • What you Need to Know if you’re Consuming Fresh Farm Eggs.
  • Salmonella Illness Fast Facts, August 2022
  • What You Need to Know as a Backyard Chicken Keeper

Whether you are raising backyard chickens or consuming fresh eggs from a local chicken keeper, there are a few precautions to be aware of. Salmonella is real, and a serious health threat that exists everywhere… even from local backyard chicken keepers.

Salmonella Illness Facts, August 2022

  • Illnesses: 884
  • Hospitalizations: 158
  • Deaths: 2
  • States: 48 and the District of Columbia
  • Investigation status: Active

What You Need to Know as a Consumer of Backyard Farm Fresh Eggs

  • Backyard poultry, such as chickens and ducks, can carry Salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean. These germs can easily spread to anything in the areas where the poultry live and roam.
  • You can get sick from touching backyard poultry or anything in their environment, including eggs.
  • Your eggs should never be in a used egg carton. If you’re unsure if your supplier uses new cartons, transfer the eggs into a clean wire basket. It’s a good practice to transfer eggs to your own basket before they reach your kitchen.
  • Discard dirty or irregular eggs. Dirty eggs mean the nest box is dirty, and the eggs may have been exposed to bacteria.
  • Don’t wash eggs; eggs have what is called the *bloom that protects the egg from bacteria. Washing removes the bloom, allowing bacteria to easily enter the egg.
  • Ask to see the area where the hens that supply your eggs are kept. It should be dry and not foul-smelling. The hens should look happy and healthy.
  • Never crack open the egg on the same pan you’re cooking in.
  • Wash your hands anytime you handle eggs, especially when cooking.

Those at Highest Risk of Severe Illness from Salmonella

  • Young children, especially under 5 years old.
  • Adults 65 and over, or someone with a compromised or weakened immune system.
Fancy Egg Baskets are available on Amazon, but the one shown above is from the Dollar Store!

What You Need to Know as a Backyard Chicken Keeper

  • Eggs from a backyard chicken keeper should be collected daily. Cracked, dirty, or eggs that aren’t in the nest box should be discarded. Fresh eggs are better left unwashed as not to disturb the bloom, which protects the eggs from bacteria.
  • It is good practice to clean nest boxes weekly and have at least one nest box for every three hens.
  • Don’t re-use egg cartons; or sell eggs in used cartons. Use a wire basket when collecting eggs. Ask your customers to bring their own basket or container.
  • Transfer eggs to a clean wire basket or new carton before storing them in your refrigerator.
  • Wash hands immediately after handling eggs.
  • There should be a clean space between your living quarters and the coop. Shoes, gloves, or anything you wear to work in the coop should be left in a designated area away from your living quarters. Rakes, shovels, and all cleaning supplies that are used in the coop should STAY IN THE COOP or a designated area nearby.
  • If your birds are free-roaming, they should have an area completely separate from the family home. This includes a no chicken zone where children or pets are likely to play.
  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years touch chicks, or other backyard poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick from Salmonella.

More information | CDC | Salmonella and Backyard Poultry
Centers of Disease Control & Prevention

* What is the Bloom? The “bloom” of an egg in an invisible coating that the hen’s body will “lay” on top of the shell of the egg. The bloom is also known as the cuticle of the eggs. It protects the egg from bacteria entering the egg.

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Good Egg…or Bad?

Ever wonder if the eggs you’re buying are fresh? Here’s how to tell.

At the large end of the egg there is an air pocket about an 1/8 deep and approximately as large around as a dime. As an egg ages it loses both moisture and carbon dioxide causing the egg to shrink and the size of the air space to increase.  By placing an egg in water the size of that airspace determines the buoyancy of the egg – and it’s freshness.

  • When you submerge a fresh egg in water it will rest on the bottom.
  • An egg that is about a week old will bob slightly on the bottom.
  • At about three weeks old it will balance on its small end, with large end straight up.
  • A bad egg will float.
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