The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday expanded the nationwide recall of eggs to 380 million after hundreds of salmonella infections were found linked to an Iowa company facility.

The salmonella outbreak which began in May prompted an initial voluntary recall of 228 million eggs last week by the Wright County Egg Farm in Galt, Iowa.

Nearly 300 cases of illness in California, Minnesota and Colorado have been linked to Salmonella Enteritidis from food containing eggs, according to the public health officials. Further investigation by the FDA and state health officials traced many tainted eggs to Wright County Egg.

"Wright County Egg is fully cooperating with FDA's investigation by undertaking this voluntary recall," the company said in a statement. "Our primary concern is keeping salmonella out of the food supply and away from consumers."

Salmonella Enteritidis is pernicious because the pathogen can be transferred to eggs by infected hens and be inside eggs that appear normal.

Symptoms of salmonella-related illness, which is the most common bacterial food-borne illness in the country, could begin as many as three days after eating the eggs, and include diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains, according to an expert. Cooking eggs thoroughly and eating them immediately afterward greatly reduces the risk of salmonella poisoning.

A lot of salmonella cases are underreported and the CDC has estimated that the number of people sickened as a result of the salmonella outbreak could be in the thousands.

The federal government’s investigation into the source of the outbreak is ongoing and the agency suspects other foods could also be involved in the outbreak.
Salmonella outbreaks accounted for 142 of the bacterial outbreaks in 2007, according to a report from CDC researchers in the Aug. 13 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The outbreaks included 802 illnesses traced to tainted hummus, and 401 illnesses from frozen pot pies. Rodents in food packaging and distribution facilities are the most common source of salmonella contamination according to the report.

Wright County Egg said the eggs that came from its five plants were sold across the country under 13 brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemp.

The egg cartons were packaged between May 16 and August 13 and stamped with one of three codes: P-1026, P-1413 or P-1946.

Consumers who believe they may have recalled eggs should return them to the store for a full refund, said the company.