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UPDATED: Egg Recall Company Tied To Shocking Number Of Violations

UPDATED: Egg Recall Company Tied To Shocking Number Of Violations

UPDATE

The New York Times is reporting today that the United States decided against a hen vaccine to prevent salmonella, despite its resounding success in Britain.

Stunning Results of Hen Vaccine

In 1997, there were 14,771 reported cases of the most common type of salmonella in England and Wales. With the introduction of the hen vaccine, the disease has virtually disappeared. Last year there were just 581 cases, a drop of 96 percent from 1997.

Why has the U.S. not followed this path? When the Food and Drug Administration created new egg safety rules last month, they declared that there was not enough evidence to conclude that vaccinating hens against salmonella would prevent people from getting sick.

The Elimination of Salmonella
Since this simple precaution would have cost less than a penny per dozen eggs, wasn’t it worth even giving it a try?

“We have pretty much eliminated salmonella as a human problem in the U.K.,” said Amanda Cryer, director of the British Egg Information Service. In the U.S., 142,000 illnesses every year are caused by consuming eggs contaminated with the most common type of salmonella. Let’s follow the example of the U.K. and make vaccinating hens mandatory.

Over Half a Billion Eggs

What do the two Iowa farms that have recalled half a billion eggs this month have in common? Both are linked to one person: businessman Austin “Jack” DeCoster.

DeCoster owns both Wright County Egg, the original farm that recalled 380 million eggs on August 13 after they were linked to more than 1,000 reported cases of salmonella poisoning, as well as Quality Egg, a company that supplies young chickens and feed to both Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, the second farm that recalled another 170 million eggs a week later.

Twenty Years Of Violations

But there’s a lot more to this story. The Washington Post on Sunday revealed that the DeCoster family organization, one of the 10 largest egg producers in the country, has a string of violations going back to the 1990′s.

According to The Washington Post, “in June 2010, the family agreed to pay a $34,675 fine stemming from allegations of animal cruelty against hens in its 5 million-bird Maine facility. An animal rights group used a hidden camera to document hens suffocating in garbage cans, twirled by their necks, kicked into manure pits to drown and hanging by their feet over conveyer belts.”

Abuses Of Human Rights And Animal Rights

The list goes on and on, but here are a few more:
* In 2002, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the family’s Maine Contract Farming branch $345,810 for an array of violations.

*The same year, DeCoster Egg Farms of Maine paid $3.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed in 1998 by Mexican workers alleging discrimination in housing and working conditions.

* In 1997, DeCoster Egg Farms agreed to pay $2 million to settle citations brought in 1996 for health and safety violations. Then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich said conditions were “as dangerous and oppressive as any sweatshop,” and cited unguarded machinery, electrical hazards, and exposure to harmful bacteria.

Where Is The Food And Drug Administration?

Two weeks ago I wrote about the salmonella outbreak at Taco Bell, in which at least 155 people had been sickened. This seems fairly minor compared to the egregious history of Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his organization.

Although it is still unclear exactly what role the company has played in the current salmonella outbreak, with at least eight major violations already on its record, why has this company been allowed to keep operating? Was it not required to make amends? Apparently not, since violations by DeCoster were first reported in 1996, and are still being reported in 2010.

So the question remains: why has the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) not shut this operation down? And why has the FDA been so slow to take action now? The American egg-consuming public deserves some answers.

(For those of us who might still want to enjoy eating eggs, click on The Egg Safety Center to find specific product numbers of all the recalled eggs.)

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Creative Commons - John-Morgan

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311 comments

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5:54PM PDT on Oct 19, 2010

that's what happens when you pay off the right people.......

6:00AM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

Unfortunately companies lie about their products all the time. Not all but many. An "Egg" company, no different. I've noticed the larger the company the larger and the more frequent lies. I used to be a very trusting person but not anymore. My, trust be earned, be it an individual or corporation. It used to be that companies you to be sneaky about lying but today they are just blatant about their lies. If they get caught, for the most part, they pay a fine. Large companies would rather pay a fine than correct any problems or lies. It's usually much cheaper for them in the long run. The only thing that I know from experience that does work is give them the benefit of the doubt and let them fix their problem/problems. In an reasonable amount of time the problem is not rectified, SHUT THEM DOWN!!!! This works. No production, no product, no money at all.

I was "Quality Control Mgr" of a medium size company. In extreme cases I had the authority too shut down production. One time there was a major problem and all the powers to be were in a meeting. When I asked to see them about a major problem I was told they can't be disturbed (just arrogant). I shut down the whole plant. Went back and told their secretary. The meeting immediately halted and I got their attention. They were pissed but my boss backed me up and we corrected the problem, after 2 days. Shutting down does work.

1:47PM PDT on Sep 26, 2010

THESE PEOPLE COUNT ON OUR APATHY! We are so consumed with maintaining our comfort level that we don’t do anything until it’s a crisis. We also think that nothing we do individually makes a difference.

Not true – Look at how popular “organic” milk and eggs are now because enough people switched. It’s so popular that the factory farms are buying out organic farms and "INCORPORATING" them into their existing operations.

They want in on the latest "craze". Example – My vegetarian daughter bought a carton of eggs proclaiming to be from wild hens running free, chasing bugs, basking in sunshine in the meadow….So I looked it up. What a load of bull.

I found an article about this wild hen farm. It’s actually one company sending out differently labeled cartons from supposedly independent small farms. There was even an aerial view picture of the company's site of operation. I didn’t see any meadows, any chickens, any grass. I did see long metal buildings or "hen houses" in rows…surrounded by dirt.

So, you can't always trust the smiling chicken you see on the carton, or the cute sentimental story on the inside.

Solution...We have power as consumers. We can speak through our pocket books. We can educate ourselves, our friends and our families. Most importantly - we can boycott companies that are putting our health in jeopardy.

1:20PM PDT on Sep 26, 2010

PLEASE – WATCH “FOOD, INC” – Even if you don’t care about animal suffering. For your children’s sake, even if you don’t care about what YOU eat.

But if you are ok with eating meat washed in ammonia & injected with artificial color & flavor-by all means keep eating factory produced meat.

If you are ok with eating meat pumped full of adrenalin from terrified animals waiting in line to be slaughtered, go ahead.

If you are ok with eating eggs from hens sitting in maggot infested feces-hope you enjoy your omelet.

Why is the FDA silent? Because it is run by the people producing this "food". Democrat & Republicans alike have appointed these people. It crosses party lines.

Why are there so few inspectors? Because the money is staying at the top-where bureaucrats want it. How else are they going to support their lifestyles?

We need to wake up -

3:46PM PDT on Sep 13, 2010

thanks for shareing

4:59PM PDT on Sep 12, 2010

Close them down!

3:17AM PDT on Sep 11, 2010

Thanks for Posting !!

10:24PM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

this does not suprise me anymore -shortcuts and greed

6:52PM PDT on Sep 9, 2010

This is disgusting, get out there and check up on these farms, it's not 1946, it's 2010 for goodness sake, we have young children to think about...GRRRRRRRRRR!!!!

3:14AM PDT on Sep 8, 2010

The people hired as FDA workers find out what is safe to consume & what is not. They & their family/friends consume the tested, healthy, pure foods, etc while the rest of the public assumes things are on the up&up if sold in the marketplace. FDA labels can't be a lie right? WRONG!

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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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