Last week, it was 228 million eggs. Then it rose to 320 million. Then 380 million. Over the weekend, it crossed the half-billion mark and, as of today (or at least as of right this minute) the recall of potentially salmonella-tainted eggs stands at a whopping 550 million eggs.
And that is...just a lot of fucking eggs.
According to a report today on CNN, it might get worse, too. Or worser, I guess. Because the FDA is now looking into a bunch of "subrecalls" just to try and get a handle on the scope of the outbreak.
This, from a CNN interview with the FDA: "The Food and Drug Administration 'may need to continue with smaller subrecalls,' FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said on CNN's "American Morning" on Monday. 'We have a very complicated network of food distribution in this country,' Hamburg said. 'You start with a couple of farms in Iowa and you can get nationwide exposure.'Those "couple farms in Iowa" are Wright County Egg (which was where the recall started and which stands as responsible for that first 380-million-egg number) and Hillandale Farms (who came through on Friday with a recall of 170 million eggs)--not exactly mom-and-pop operations or the kind of farms people think of when anyone says the word "farm."
No, these are large, industrial operations capable of turning out bajillions of eggs which are then shipped all over the country. At this point, the list of brands associated with these two companies--the names under which their eggs are sold--is actually too long to list here, so if you're concerned (and you should be), you need to go to the Egg Safety Center (eggsafety.org) and take a look at the entire list.
Actually, even if you're not that concerned, but would like to see a pretty good example of what the centralization of our food supply looks like, the Egg Safety Center is the place to go. We're talking around a hundred brands and varieties of eggs for sale to consumers, all coming from just two shell egg operations. It's a perfect illustration of what's wrong with our food supply, but also one of the reasons that a dozen eggs are just $2 or $3 and not a buck apiece, or more.
As of today, about 1,000 people have been sickened by the salmonella enteritidis present in these eggs, so it is an absolutely serious thing . But one of the statistics that truly surprised me while watching coverage over the weekend? 550 million eggs represents only about one percent of the 80 billion eggs produced in the United States in a year.
That's billion. With a B. And maybe I'm just a pessimist, but while some folks out there are trying to use this incredibly large number as a way to calm fears that all of our eggs are poisoned, to me that number just means that this recall will probably get a whole lot bigger before it goes away.
I guess we'll all just have to wait and see. And maybe have toast for breakfast instead of that omelet.