Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Great 2010 Egg Recall Hits Home

On Saturday, the day after we got back from Texas, I decided to participate in something larger than myself, namely the recall of many hundreds of millions of eggs, or a billion, or whatever the final total might be. While Ann, Lilly and I were away, Yuriko had acquired a package of 36 Hillandale Farms-brand eggs, but had eaten none.

"If your carton has a combination of numbers that matches the affected plant number AND Julian date, your eggs are affected in the recall," notes the Egg Safety Center web site (which is part of the American Egg Board, the marketing organ of the U.S. egg industry). Our carton had a plant number of 1860 and a Julian date between 099 and 230. Match! We had recalled eggs.

The egg industry uses "Julian Dates"? Somehow I understood that the Egg Safety Center meant day of the year, which in our eggs' case would be April 9 to August 18. NASA, at least, asserts that "Julian date is sometimes used as a synonym for day of year, but this is not correct usage."

I'd never heard of it used that way, either. Long ago I read of how astronomers use the term, which NASA also describes: "Julian dates (abbreviated JD) are a continuous count of days and fractions since noon Universal Time on January 1, 4713 BCE (on the Julian calendar). Julian dates are widely used as time variables within astronomical software and should not be confused with day of year."

Tell that to the egg men. Anyway, I added an extra errand to my Saturday: swing by the warehouse store, return the eggs. Probably we could have eaten the eggs, since heat kills salmonella, and we're able to apply heat to our eggs. Moreover, the eggs might not harbor the bacteria in the first place.

Still, as I mentioned above, I wanted to be part of the recall just for the sake of being part of the recall, so there I was in line at Costco around noon on Saturday. Two lines of people waited to return items, and most of them carried eggs. When my turn came, the clerk merely scanned my membership card and refunded $3.03, quick as a wink -- and then deposited the eggs in a grocery cart that was almost full of eggs already.

It was nice to be home and back at quotidian duties like participating in a billion-egg recall. But we had a good visit in San Antonio. The point of the late-summer trip was for my daughters and I to visit my mother and brothers, which we did. But we had a week to spend, and managed to shoe in some other activities. It's the thing to do in one of the country's least known, but most interesting large cities, even if it is your old home town.

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