Monday, November 24, 2014

Egg rules shelved in Iowa

Four years after at least 1,800 consumers were sickened by eggs from Iowa farms owned by Austin (Jack) DeCoster, none of the recommended regulatory reforms have been adopted.

And DeCoster and his son are awaiting sentencing on criminal charges.

The food poisoning prompted a recall of half a billion eggs.

But when reporters and others delved into the background, they found that DeCoster eggs had previously poisoned consumers in New York State and Maine, prompting New York to ban the company.

They found a similar situation in Maryland; DeCoster sold his business there and concentrated operations in Iowa which had lax egg-industry regulations.

The investigators learned that DeCoster knew when inspectors would be coming.

Iowa still does not require on-farm inspections to determine whether there is salmonella in the flocks. 

It was salmonella enteriditis that poisoned consumers.

There is a high risk when cracked eggs which go through contaminated wash water are allowed on the market. The bacteria can enter via the cracks and then poison meals where raw eggs are an ingredient.

There are some disturbing Canadian parallels with Iowa, one of  them being Canadian Food Inspection Agency files that confirm that cracked eggs continue to be marketed by the nation's two largest egg-producing and egg-grading companies - L.H. Gray & Son Ltd. of Strathroy and Burnbrae Farms of Lyn, both in Ontario.

And those companies also used to know when CFIA inspectors were coming and staff used to work hard to get everything spiffed up for those inspections. Apparently the CFIA stopped giving prior notice after this blog reported on the advance notices.