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The North Carolina egg farm at the center of a multi-state salmonella outbreak was infested with rodents, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection report cited by the Washington Post.
Dozens of rodents, both alive and dead, were found in and around hen houses at the Rose Acre Farms in Hyde County, the newspaper said. Thirty-five people who ate eggs traced back to the farm have been sickened since November, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most of the cases were in New York and Virginia.
The FDA report said "unacceptable rodent activity" had been cited at Rose Acre Farms even before the initial salmonella cases were reported, the Post said. The FDA inspection at the heart of the report was conducted in March and April.
The agency said it also found large numbers of insects gathered near chicken feeds, and that employees failed to maintain safe food-handling practices, the Post said.
Last month, Rose Acre recalled more than 207 million eggs for potential salmonella contamination. The eggs were sold under brand names including Great Value, Country Daybreak and Crystal Farms.
The facility produces some 2.3 million eggs daily, distributing them to retailers and restaurants in Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the Carolinas. It's among the largest egg producers in the United States, the newspaper said.
The family-owned farm has issued a statement saying it has taken "numerous remedial actions" to make sure the facility meets or exceeds federal standards.
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