Warning letters issued by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to two major egg producers detail a number of violations of rules, which are designed to prevent salmonella food poisoning.
Each letter details numerous violations of salmonella prevention rules that were found during inspections of facilities between May and August 2012.
Midwest Poultry Services, based in Mentone, Indiana, produces nearly 150 million dozen eggs a year. According to FDA inspectors, the company failed to adequately implement requirements which would protect the eggs from contamination. The producer was cited for failing to implement a Salmonella prevention plan, use adequate methods for rodent control in poultry houses.
According to inspections done in July, more than 100 rodents were caught at the facility within a five day period. Midwest Poultry also failed to rodent monitoring procedures and documentation detailing the new procedures.
Among other violations, the company also failed to properly comply with egg refrigeration guidelines. Eggs which were grown at the facility are required to receive refrigeration within 36 hours of laying; however, the FDA’s record indicated refrigeration was not occurring within the 36 hours.
Another major egg producer, SKS Enterprises, Inc., also received an FDA violation letter detailing multiple infractions, risking contamination of the eggs at their Lodi, California facility. SKS houses nearly 2 million laying hens and serves on the American Egg Board to promote the “Incredible Edible Egg” campaign for the egg industry.
The FDA inspected five of SKS’s egg production facilities and found numerous violations of the Salmonella Prevention Plan. Among the violations, SKS failed to conduct environmental testing during specified times. The company also failed to conduct the environmental testing used to detect Salmonella and used improper sampling and testing methods.
In addition, multiple SKS facilities were in violation of having nearly 30 wild birds in their poultry houses. These facilities also reportedly had large six inch gaps along the roofing of the poultry enclosures, allowing wild birds and other animals to enter the facility and contaminate the eggs. SKS informed the FDA they would repair the gaps with chicken wire, but failed to submit detailed reports explaining how and when the action would be taken.
Other documentation issues include failing to adequately maintain records detailing rodent and other pest prevention methods, and failing to submit written responses to the FDA concerning the inspections and violations.
The issues identified at both Midwest Poultry and SKS violate the Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production Storage and Transportation Regulations, a two year-old prevention rule implemented to reduce the risk of contamination instead of addressing it after it has occurred.
According to the warning letters, the egg producers have 15 days from receipt of the letters to respond to the FDA’s inquiry and submit documentation specifying the steps and corrective action taken to address the violations and prevention methods to ensure contamination does not occur again in the future.
Failure for either producer to correct the violations will result in FDA regulatory action, which can include seizure, injunction or administrative enforcement procedures.