Salmonella Found at Wright County Egg Since 2008

First, it was despicable conditions at the egg farms linked to the recent and massive <"">egg recall over Salmonella poisoning. Then, we wrote about how, despite that egg inspectors from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) saw deplorable conditions at Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa, they never notified health authorities.

Now, emerging reports point to long-term—years of, in fact—positive Salmonella test results at Wright County Egg, said USA Today. Wright County Egg, along with Hillandale Farms, also of Iowa, has recalled millions of shell eggs since mid-August. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 1500 reported illnesses are likely associated with the multi-state Salmonella outbreak.

According to Congressional investigators, they collected records indicating problems beyond the filth and vermin reported by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August, said USA Today. Now, based on the data received, multiple positive Salmonella tests have not been reported as far back as 2008.

The egg farm received a massive 426 positive results for the dangerous, and sometimes deadly, pathogen which included 73 samples that were potentially positive for the strain involved in the recent outbreak, Salmonella enteritidis, said USA Today. Based on the documents collected, nothing points to Wright County Egg ever advising “local, state, or federal officials,” wrote USA Today.

We recently wrote that USDA daily sanitation reports obtained by The Wall Street Journal stated that egg inspectors observed bugs and overflowing trash earlier this year at Wright County Egg Plant 170, a facility that produced many of the recalled eggs. Reviews from May were “unsatisfactory” in several areas, including some deemed “critical”; reports filed in June and July were worse. In spite of this, USDA inspectors did not stop production at the facility, saying it didn’t give notice because “the conditions at the egg plant packing facilities were routine,” the Journal said. USDA officials also maintained that inspectors notified the plant manager each morning when they saw issues, and facilities were cleaned up before production began.

According to Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), “The company had clear evidence that their flocks were infected long before the outbreak occurred…. It isn’t the first time a company involved in an outbreak ignored its own test results, and it won’t be the last, unless legislation pending before the Senate is enacted and FDA takes its role of inspecting food facilities far more seriously,” quoted USA Today.

The trend points to “the environmental contamination” being “widespread on these farms,” said Darrell Trampel, professor of production animal medicine at Iowa State University in Ames. “Maybe six to 12 positives … wouldn’t be surprising, but 73 is relatively high,” he added, quoted USA Today. “If he’s getting repeated positives back on consecutive tests, that tells you that you’re not getting to the root cause of what the problem is,” said Patricia Curtis, director of the poultry products safety program at Auburn University in Alabama, reported USA Today.

The records were made public in a letter just sent to Wright County owner Austin “Jack” DeCoster from the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on oversight and investigations, said USA Today. DeCoster has been asked to attend a Congressional hearing next week and has been told to be “ready to address questions about disturbing environmental sample results” quoted USA Today, including why, when asked in August, he did not provide these records to the committee.

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