Iowa has been the No. 1 egg-producing state in the nation for the past 10 years. Clark Kauffman with the Des Moines Register notes one year after 1,900 people were sickened and a half-billion Iowa eggs were recalled, government inspectors continue to find unsanitary conditions and inadequate protections against salmonella on Iowa’s egg farms.
Last year, some 380 million of the 550 million recalled eggs were traced to Wright County Egg, owned by Austin “Jack” DeCoster, a habitual offender of human rights violations, labor rights violations, environmental laws, and animal cruelty abuses.
The FDA sent DeCoster a warning letter October, 15th, 2010, advising DeCoster to take prompt corrective action. The FDA inspection found and listed the following egregious violations:
* 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
As Kauffman points out, none of the violations resulted in penalties from state or federal agencies, and Iowa’s egg producers still aren’t required to notify state officials when they find salmonella.
FOIA records obtained by The Des Moines Register indicate some of Iowa’s major egg producers failed to meet minimum federal standards intended to protect consumers from salmonella triggering last year’s nationwide egg recall.
Kauffman stressed critical elements in the FOIA report, such as the size of rodent infestations, the brand names under which the eggs are sold, and the names of diseases documented at the egg farms were redacted and withheld from the public.
There are still no state or federal penalties for health and safety violations that could lead to salmonella poisoning.
Despite passage of new federal food safety laws, FDA regulations continue to fall short of protecting the public against food-borne illnesses by allowing inspections at egg farms to be announced days in advance. And on-site testing for salmonella by the FDA officials is rare.
Additionally, the FDA rejected vaccinating hens against salmonella, claiming there was not enough evidence vaccinating hens would prevent people from getting sick.
According to the CDC, salmonella causes about 1.2 million cases of food poisoning each year. Its victims are most likely to be 5 or younger.