Sunday, August 22, 2010

Egg Supplier has a history of violations

So far we have two Iowa farms that have recalled more than half a billion eggs.
Both farms have a relationship with the same suppliers of chickens and feed.

Both of these farms have businessman Austin "Jack" DeCoster in common, and he has been cited for numerous health, safety and employment violations over the years. DeCoster owns Wright County Egg, the first farm that recalled 380 million eggs.
That's when there were more than 1,000 reported cases of salmonella poisoning.

Another of Jacks companies, Quality Egg, supplies young chickens and feed to both Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, that's the second farm that recalled another 170 million eggs the following week.
People keep asking, "what happened?"
The cause of the outbreaks is still unknown, and the Food and Drug Administration investigators are still  at the farms trying to figure it out.

Here's a look at DeCoster and his food and farm operations:

— In 1997, DeCoster Egg Farms agreed to pay $2 million in fines to settle citations brought in 1996 for health and safety violations at DeCoster's farm in Turner, Maine. The conditions were "as dangerous and oppressive as any sweatshop." With unguarded machinery, electrical hazards, exposure to harmful bacteria and other unsanitary conditions.

— In 2000, Iowa designated DeCoster a "habitual violator" of environmental regulations for problems that included hog manure runoff into waterways. As a habitual violator he was subject to increased penalties and prohibited him from building new farms.

We're not saying DeCoster's company is responsible for the current salmonella outbreak, but having said that,  DeCoster's Wright County Egg is already facing at least two lawsuits related to the egg recall. One is from food distributor Dutch Farms, which says the company used unauthorized cartons to package and sell eggs under its brand without its knowledge.

The other is from a person who said they became ill after eating tainted eggs in a salad at a restaurant in Kenosha, Wis.

So yes, he's innocent until proven guilty, but, The CDC said investigations by 10 states since April have identified 26 cases where more than one person became ill. Preliminary information showed that DeCoster  was the supplier in at least 15 of those.