Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Chicago — About 207-million eggs supplied by a North Carolina farm are being recalled after more than 20 consumers became ill from suspected salmonella poisoning.

The eggs from a Rose Acre Farms facility in Hyde County, North Carolina, could be contaminated with a form of salmonella, which can cause serious infection, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Friday.

They were sold under several brand names to stores and restaurants in nine states: Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

"Consumers with these eggs shouldn’t eat them," FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said on Sunday in a Twitter message: "Throw them away or return them to the place of purchase for a credit or refund."

The FDA said 22 illnesses had been reported. The company voluntarily recalled the eggs after an investigation of illnesses on the East Coast triggered an inspection of the facility. The recall is equivalent to almost 10 days’ production at the farm, which produces 2.3-million eggs a day.

The infections were first reported in early March. On April 11 a lab confirmed that a sample from the Hyde County farm matched a strain that was spurring the illness, the FDA said.

"The Hyde County farm has never before experienced a recall or serious safety violation," Rose Acre Farms said. "The recall was conducted in full co-operation with the FDA and [we] look forward to getting the Hyde County farm back in operation as soon as possible."

The recall is the largest of eggs in the US since 2010, when more than 550-million eggs were recalled from two Iowa farms, according to the website Food Safety News.

It comes at the same time as an advisory about an E coli outbreak affecting 35 people in 11 states, linked to chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona, region.

In that case 22 hospitalisations were reported, the Centers for Disease Control said in a notice posted on April 13. No common grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified.