Last summer, over a half-billion eggs were recalled because of salmonella contamination traced to Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. FDA officials reported at the time that chicken feed may have been a major contributor to the salmonella contamination, signaling a larger problem of site contamination.
Austin “Jack”DeCoster, owner of Wright County Egg, was responsible for 380 million of the 550 million recalled eggs. DeCoster is a habitual offender, having committed human rights violations, labor rights violations, environmental laws, and animal cruelty abuses.
In 2001, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that DeCoster was a “repeat violator” of environmental laws, and was forbidden to expand its hog-farming interests in the state. In the early 1990s, DeCoster owned and operated two giant facilities in the state of Maryland, and was charged with violating a quarantine by selling contaminated eggs out of state.
The FDA sent DeCoster a warning letter October, 15th, 2010, advising DeCoster that failure to take prompt corrective action may result in further action without prior notice, which may include seizure or injunction. For a complete list of FDA concerns regarding DeCoster’s Wright County Egg, the FDA letter is well-worth reading if you think you have the stomach.
The FDA inspection found and listed the following egregious violations — among others:
* 8-foot high chicken manure piles
* Caged chickens having contact with uncaged ones that had walked around on the manure piles
* Dead maggots, live flies, and dead flies. So many of them that it was impossible to make a count.
* Live rodents inside the hen houses
* Pigeons and other wild birds, and their feathers in the hen houses
* Rodent holes which had remained unsealed
* The sheer weight of manure piles pushing open outside pit doors
* What seemed to be “liquid manure” seeping through a concrete foundation
The problems cited in the agency’s letter have been addressed, Hinda Mitchell, a spokeswoman for Wright County Egg, said in an e-mail to Bloomberg. The letter is “just the official FDA follow-up”to an inspection report released Aug. 30, she said. An FDA spokeswoman, confirmed that the Oct. 15 letter is based on the August inspections.
In another letter to Hillandale Farms, the FDA OK’d the company’s resumption of egg production. FDA officials who inspected Hillandale’s facility concluded the company had taken steps to improve conditions. “Hillandale can resume shipping eggs from three of its henhouses, and agreed to hold eggs from four other houses until they go through four rounds of salmonella testing,” the FDA said.