An Iowa egg farm that was implicated in a massive nationwide egg recall due to salmonella contamination this summer still has not cleaned up its act, according to federal regulators.
The FDA issued a warning letter on October 15 to Austin J. Decoster, owner of Quality Egg LLC and the Wright County Egg facility. The letter lists a number of deficiencies at the egg facility that inspectors say makes it non-compliant with egg safety rules and could lead to another salmonella food poisoning outbreak if the company began to sell eggs again. In contrast, the other facility connected with the egg recall, Hillandale Farms, was given a clean bill of health and allowed to begin egg production once again.
In August, the two companies had to recall more than half a billion eggs nationwide due to salmonella contamination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has estimated that at least 1,519 people fell ill from salmonella poisoning from the eggs, but it is likely that the true number of food poisoning cases is much higher since most illnesses are never reported.
The egg farms have long been plagued by problems, which have only come to light in the aftermath of the egg recall. The companies have been cited numerous times in the past due to non-compliance with a variety of federal regulations. Following the recall, the farms have been targeted by a number of egg food poisoning lawsuits.
The warning letter to Decoster details ongoing problems at the Wright County Egg facility even after it was supposed to have been brought into compliance. Some of the things inspectors found include dark liquid that appears to be manure dripping through cracks in concrete, three-inch deep standing water in manure pits, wild birds infiltrating the pens, doors blocked and forced open by excessive piles of manure, and flies and maggots “too numerous to count” found all over the facility.
The FDA called on Decoster to take prompt and aggressive action to clear up the problems at the facility. The agency warned Decoster that his facility could be subject to seizure and injunction if the corrections are not addressed.
Wright County Egg officials have said that the letter is from an August 30th inspection, and that the company is addressing the problems.
Salmonella is a type of bacteria that attacks the gastrointestinal tract, causing mild to severe food poisoning. For most healthy adults, symptoms of food poisoning from salmonella typically resolve after a few days or weeks. However, young children, the elderly, and individuals with compromised immune systems have an increased risk of suffering severe food poisoning after ingesting the bacteria. If not properly treated, some cases of salmonella food poisoning can lead to hospitalization, dehydration or death.