FDA officials said Thursday that investigators found salmonella in chicken feed at Wright County Egg that was used by that farm and also Hillandale Farms. They also found additional samples of salmonella in other locations at Wright County Egg. More than 550 million eggs from the two farms were recalled this month after they were linked to salmonella poisoning in several states.
Also Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that there could now be as many as 1,470 illnesses linked to the outbreak, about 200 more than previously thought.
Sherri McGarry of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition said the salmonella found at Wright County Egg matches the fingerprint of the salmonella found in many of those who were sickened. She said the tests indicate that contaminated feed is a source of the outbreak but possibly not the only source.
McGarry and other FDA officials emphasized that the agency's investigation is ongoing, and that they do not yet know how the feed became contaminated. Investigators are analyzing as many as 600 samples from various places at the two farms.
FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said the investigators are not just looking at the feed, but at the "overall contamination of the facility." Contamination found in the feed could be a part of a larger problem, he said.
"While they have found it in the feed, they are not confirming any sort of cause and effect relationship," he said.
The feed mill where the salmonella was found operates as part of the Wright County Egg facility and also provides feed to Hillandale Farms. Officials said they are not yet sure whether the feed came to the farm contaminated or was contaminated at the farms. They said there is no evidence at this time that the feed went to any other farms.
Congress is hoping to get more answers from the two farms, the FDA and the Agriculture Department in September.