Egg Recall: Supplier Reported to Have History of Health, Safety Violations

Two farms that recalled some 450 million potentially-tainted eggs have links to an Iowa businessman who “has been cited for numerous health, safety, and employment violations over the years,” according to a report Sunday.

The Associated Press reports that businessman Austin DeCoster owns Wright County Egg, the first farm that recalled eggs linked to reported cases of salmonella poisoning. Mr. DeCoster also owns Quality Egg, which supplies chickens and feed to Wright County Egg and to Hillandale Farms of Iowa. On Friday, Hillandale Farms became the second farm to recall potentially-contaminated eggs.

“DeCoster is no stranger to controversy in his food and farm operations,” the AP reports.

Over the years, DeCoster’s company has agreed to pay large fines to settle charges involving health, safety, and employment discrimination issues. DeCoster’s farms also have been the target of immigration raids and animal-cruelty allegations.

As the Monitor’s Laurent Belsie reported Saturday, the recall so far involves eggs distributed to 14 states: Arkansas, California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin. The egg recall brands include: Hillandale Farms, Sunny Farms, and Sunny Meadow in a variety of packages, including in 6-egg, 12-egg, 18-egg, and 30-egg cartons as well as five-dozen cases.

The US Food and Drug Administration investigation is likely to take months.

But according to the AP report, “DeCoster’s Wright County Egg is already facing at least two lawsuits related to the egg recall.”

“One is from food distributor Dutch Farms, which says the company used unauthorized cartons to package and sell eggs under its brand without its knowledge. The other is from a person who said they became ill after eating tainted eggs in a salad at a restaurant in Kenosha, Wis.”

According to the industry group United Egg Producers, less than one percent of all US eggs have been involved in the recall. Click here for a list of brands and descriptions of recalled eggs.