Wednesday, April 8, 2015

DeCoster egg farmers face sentencing

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter, who ran one of the largest egg-farming ventures in the world, will face a judge for sentencing on Monday.

In punishing them next week, U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett should consider that they ran a massive egg production operation that “routinely disregarded food safety standards and practices,” assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

Jack, 80, of Turner, Maine, and Peter, 51, off Clarion, Iowa, are scheduled to be sentenced April 13 by U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in a federal courtroom in Sioux City, Iowa.

Both pleaded guilty last year to introducing adulterated eggs into interstate commerce and face up to one year in jail.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors did not ask for a specific term of jail, home confinement or probation.

But the 14-page memo outlined illegal and unethical food safety practices that repeatedly happened on their watch, and argued the sentences should send a message to other corporate executives to “act responsibly when it comes to food safety.”

The DeCosters and their company, Quality Egg, knew that their Iowa egg facilities were at risk for contamination long before the 2010 outbreak, which sickened thousands, Deegan argued.

Here in Canada, our egg-industry titans routinely market cracked and dirty eggs with neither fines nor sanctions.