Since May, at least 1,608 people have been sickened from tainted eggs originating from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, both in Iowa. As Msnbc.com reports, some of their victims are urging Congress to pass food safety laws that will prevent this from happening again. Carol Lobato, 77, of Littleton, Colorado, nearly died in July after she ate salmonella-tainted Wright Country Eggs. She was joined in Washington by Sarah Lewis, 30, who was hospitalized twice after eating salmonella-tainted eggs.

Carol Lobato is a grandmother who also suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. As she testified, “The salmonella infection is not over for me. I have lost my stamina. I often experience indigestion and it is difficult for me to enjoy certain foods. My doctors have told me I almost certainly would have died without aggressive intervention.”

Lobato fell ill after eating an appetizer at a restaurant containing aioli, which is made with raw eggs. Unfortunately, the eggs were tainted with salmonella and the grandmother fell sick the next day. Further, Lobato shared that she is still plagued by indigestion, cramping, fevers, and the fear that salmonella is still in her body. She urges Congress to push the Food and Drug Administration to more closely monitor the egg industry.

Likewise, Sarah Lewis, mother of two young girls, was hospitalized twice after consuming tainted egg custard. Her infection has left her with a bad case of C. difficile colitis, which is a dangerous gut illness.

Salmonella outbreaks are caused by a myriad of reasons, originating mostly from secretions of sick animals or humans. It can be caused by unclean food and polluted surface water. Improperly-thawed poultry can also transmit the disease in its melt water. Salmonella can survive several weeks in a dry environment and several months in water. Poultry, cattle and sheep are often common transmitters of the illness.

Congress also heard testimony from Austin “Jack” DeCoster, owner of Wright County Egg, and his son, CEO Peter DeCoster. Msnbc.com reports that Hillandale Farms owner Orland Bethel appeared at the hearing but refused to testify, citing his Fifth Amendment rights. Both farms were cited by the FDA for extremely dirty conditions at their egg farms, including an abundance of rodents, manure, and maggots.

A new food safety bill currently before Congress would greatly increase the FDA’s authority and oversight. However, it has been blocked by Senator Tom Coburn, R-Oklahoma, who cited the $1.4 billion bill needed to be matched with spending cuts and that it would give too much power to the FDA.

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