Egg company to apologize for outbreak

While feds continue to investigate, Wright County Egg owner will tell Congress that business grew too fast

Topics: Food Business, U.S. House of Representatives,

The owner of an Iowa egg company says in testimony prepared for a House hearing that he was “horrified” to learn that his eggs may have sickened as many as 1,600 people in an outbreak of salmonella poisoning this summer.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son, Peter DeCoster, are scheduled to testify before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday. The panel has asked them to come prepared to explain what steps they have taken to address salmonella contamination found at their farms.

In testimony released by the company, Wright County Egg, the two men say they believe an ingredient sold to them by an outside supplier may be to blame for the outbreak.

So far, an FDA investigation appears to be focused on Wright and another company linked to the illnesses, Hillandale Farms. The two companies recalled more than a half billion eggs related to the outbreak in August.

Agency investigators found several samples of salmonella at the two farms, along with towers of manure and bug and rodent infestations. An investigation by the House subcommittee found that Wright County Egg had received hundreds of positive results for salmonella in the two years before the outbreak.

You Might Also Like

The president Hillandale Farms, Orland Bethel, will also testify at the hearing. Wright County Egg operates one of Hillandale’s barns and supplies feed to the company.

Jack DeCoster is no stranger to tangling with the government. He has paid millions of dollars in state and federal fines over at least two decades for health, safety, immigration and environmental violations at his farms.

In the testimony, DeCoster says his companies, which span several states, grew too fast.

“We were big before we started adopting sophisticated procedures to be sure we met all of the government requirements,” he said. “While we were big, but still acting like we were small, we got into trouble with government requirements several times.”

Peter DeCoster, CEO of Wright, said the company has made “sweeping biosecurity and food safety changes” following the recall and will remove all of their flocks that have not been vaccinated against the strain of salmonella linked to the illnesses. Such vaccinations are not required by the government. On site inspections and testing will also increase, he said.

He also said the FDA inspected the company’s feed mill in May and found no deficiencies. That is contrary to previous statements from the agency, which has said FDA has no inspectional history with the companies.

The specific cause of the outbreak is still unknown, and the FDA is still investigating.

No deaths have been reported due to the outbreak. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said this is the largest outbreak of this strain of salmonella since the start of the agency’s surveillance of outbreaks in the late 1970s. For every case reported, there may be 30 that are unreported.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Martyna Blaszczyk/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 1

    Pond de l'Archeveche - hundreds thousands of padlocks locked to a bridge by random couples, as a symbol of their eternal love. After another iconic Pont des Arts bridge was cleared of the padlocks in 2010 (as a safety measure), people started to place their love symbols on this one. Today both of the bridges are full of love locks again.

    Anders Andersson/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 2

    A bird's view of tulip fields near Voorhout in the Netherlands, photographed with a drone in April 2015.

    Aashit Desai/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 3

    Angalamman Festival is celebrated every year in a small town called Kaveripattinam in Tamil Nadu. Devotees, numbering in tens of thousands, converge in this town the day after Maha Shivratri to worship the deity Angalamman, meaning 'The Guardian God'. During the festival some of the worshippers paint their faces that personifies Goddess Kali. Other indulge in the ritual of piercing iron rods throughout their cheeks.

    Allan Gichigi/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 4

    Kit Mikai is a natural rock formation about 40m high found in Western Kenya. She goes up the rocks regularly to meditate. Kit Mikai, Kenya

    Chris Ludlow/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 5

    On a weekend trip to buffalo from Toronto we made a pit stop at Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I took this shot with my nexus 5 smartphone. I was randomly shooting the falls themselves from different viewpoints when I happened to get a pretty lucky and interesting shot of this lone seagull on patrol over the falls. I didn't even realize I had captured it in the shot until I went back through the photos a few days later

    Jassen T./National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 6

    Incredibly beautiful and extremely remote. Koehn Lake, Mojave Desert, California. Aerial Image.

    Howard Singleton/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 7

    Lucky timing! The oxpecker was originally sitting on hippo's head. I could see the hippo was going into a huge yawn (threat display?) and the oxpecker had to vacate it's perch. When I snapped the pic, the oxpecker appeared on the verge of being inhaled and was perfectly positioned between the massive gaping jaws of the hippo. The oxpecker also appears to be screeching in terror and back-pedaling to avoid being a snack!

    Abrar Mohsin/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 8

    The Yetis of Nepal - The Aghoris as they are called are marked by colorful body paint and clothes

    Madeline Crowley/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 9

    Taken from a zodiac raft on a painfully cold, rainy day

    Ian Bird/National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest

    National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Entries

    Slide 10

    This wave is situated right near the CBD of Sydney. Some describe it as the most dangerous wave in Australia, due to it breaking on barnacle covered rocks only a few feet deep and only ten metres from the cliff face. If you fall off you could find yourself in a life and death situation. This photo was taken 300 feet directly above the wave from a helicopter, just as the surfer is pulling into the lip of the barrel.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>