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WASHINGTON — Farms like the two involved in a massive recall of more than a half-billion eggs are rarely inspected by the federal government, officials say, as the Food and Drug Administration has traditionally reacted to outbreaks instead of working to prevent them.

FDA chief Margaret Hamburg said Monday her agency hasn’t had enough authority to help prevent outbreaks like the more than 1,000 cases of salmonella poisoning linked to the eggs from two Iowa farms.

There may be more recalls of eggs in the salmonella outbreak, Hamburg told NBC’s TODAY show Monday.

“We may see some additional sort of sub-recalls over the next couple of days, maybe even weeks, as we better understand the network of distribution of these eggs that are contaminated,” she said.

She advised consumers to check out the FDA website, foodsafety.gov to ensure that any eggs they purchased are not among the contaminated batches.

She also had some practical advice for consumers: Reject over-easy eggs. She said that as federal investigators continue their work with the companies involved, consumers should strictly avoid “runny egg yolks for mopping up with toast.”

Cause unknown

As for the cause, Hamburg said that officials will aggressively investigate the problem to determine the exact source of the salmonella outbreak that has sickened as many as 1,300 people and forced the recall of more than a half-billion eggs.

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