Last week, 2 Iowa-based egg producers recalled more than half a billion eggs after federal investigators traced a recent salmonella outbreak to their production facilities. The outbreak began in May. So far, it has not been linked to any deaths.
The two companies are Wright County Egg, which recalled 380 million eggs that had been distributed across the nation, and Hillandale Farms, which recalled 170 million eggs that had been distributed to 14 states in the West and Midwest. According to the Washington Post, the companies use some of the same suppliers of feed and young chickens, a fact that may help investigators trace the source of the outbreak.
Hinda Mitchell, a spokesperson for Wright County Egg told the Post that her company “recognizes the significant consumer concern about the potential incidence of Salmonella Enteritidis…we continue to work cooperatively with FDA after our voluntary recall. This is consistent with our commitment to egg safety.”
It turns out that the Iowa-based DeCoster family owns or has close ties with both egg producers.
For what it’s worth, the Post reported yesterday that the family has a long history of run-ins with federal officials. In 1996 for example, another DeCoster-owned egg farm was dunned $3.6 million for health and safety violations after inspectors found employees handling dead chickens and manure with their bare hands.
Then, in 2001, Iowa’s Supreme Court cited the family as a “repeat violator” of its environmental laws, singling-out violations involving DeCoster’s hog-farms. Later that year, the family settled a complaint that company supervisors subjected 11 female workers to a “sexually hostile work environment,” including assault and rape.
What is more, in 2002 and again in 2008, OSHA cited the family for several violations that resulted in the exposure of workers to dangerous conditions.
Of course none of this is directly relevant to the salmonella outbreak…