By Mike Lillis - 08/23/10 07:12 PM EDT
Democratic leaders on the House Energy and Commerce Committee want more information surrounding the recall of more than half a billion eggs potentially contaminated with salmonella.
In letters to Iowa's Hillandale Farms and Wright County Egg, Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the committee, and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), who heads the committee's oversight subpanel, requested a long list of details about the companies' operations and a response to the contamination.
Among the requested data, the lawmakers want to see "a description of the identity and source of that contamination;" documents "sufficient to show all … internal protocols and standards for monitoring and analysis;" and "all documents relating to any allegation of violation of any health, safety, environmental, or animal cruelty laws."
Waxman and Stupak have requested the information by Sept. 7.
Earlier this month, both companies launched voluntary recalls of eggs they discovered could be tainted with salmonella. The episode "is the largest egg recall that we've had in recent history," Margaret Hamburg, head of the Food and Drug Administration, said Monday on NBC's "Today Show."
No one has died from the contamination, federal health officials have emphasized, but hundreds have fallen ill.
Hamburg said pinpointing the source of the contamination has been difficult because this particular strand of salmonella "is the most common kind."
Hamburg also used the episode to lobby Congress to pass a food-safety bill.
"We need additional resources. We need additional authorities. We need greater ability to trace back products to their source so that we can identify how the contamination occurred and what products are at risk," Hamburg said Monday.
"And we need to be able to more routinely review records and work with companies to make sure that the food supply is safe."
Democratic leaders are hoping to take up the issue when they return from their summer vacation.