Egg Salmonella Outbreak Recalls Prompt Government Probe

According to a news release from Representative Henry Waxman (Democrat-California), the House Energy and Commerce Committee has asked for paperwork and data from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa, the two distributors involved in the current <"">550 million egg recall, said CNN. Waxman is the Committee’s chairman.

Waxman and fellow representative democrat, Bart Stupak (Michigan), who chairs the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, wrote to the egg producers seeking information on the widespread egg contamination that appears to have originated in their locations, said CNN. Among the demands, the chairmen seek information as to when the firms alerted the government and consumers about the contamination, noted CNN.

Inspection records for both facilities, as well as internal protocols and standards to monitor and analyze products and documents about alleged health, safety, environmental, and animal cruelty violations for the two firms and any of their related companies were requested, said the news release. Responses are due September 7th.

Hillandale Farms acknowledged that it and Wright County Egg shared “a number of common suppliers,” such as Quality Egg, a provider of feed and young birds, said CNN. “We are devastated that our eggs have been implicated in making people sick,” Hillandale farms said in a statement, quoted CNN. “We have never had a product recall in our 45-year history, and it flies in the face of our mission to provide wholesome, nutritious food for the American public. We regret that anyone might have become ill, and the concern and disruption this has caused our customers,” the firm added.

In a statement issued yesterday, Wright County Egg said it was collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the recalls, defending its history, said CNN.

The DeCoster family, which also owns a number of agribusiness firms in the Midwest and Northeast, owns Wright County and Quality Egg said CNN. Recently, Austin “Jack” DeCoster was cited for cruelty in Maine following release of an undercover video investigation to Maine animal welfare officials, said CNN.
The Des Moines Register pointed out that DeCoster, who was deemed an habitual violator by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for ongoing environmental problems in the 1990s, pleaded guilty in 2003 to federal immigration charges, paying a $1.25 million fine. 
DeCoster was also “heavily fined” by the Labor Department for mistreating his Maine egg farm workers and, recently, agreed to pay $130,000 to settle state animal cruelty charges, wrote the Des Moines Register.

Meanwhile, House FDA and Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee chair, Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro (Connecticut) wrote to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Hamburg, seeking information on the recall, said the Des Moines Register. DeLauro asked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the FDA about the investigation into the DeCoster farm’s safety record and its operations’ oversight, noted the Des Moines Register.

To date, eggs involved were packaged up to four months ago, said the Des Moines Register, which noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported an increase in May in sicknesses from a specific strain of Salmonella, about 1,300 more normal.

Salmonella bacteria can either contaminate the outside of the shell from fecal matter or infect the inside of the egg if the chicken has Salmonella poisoning, said the Des Moines Register.

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