Congress Sets Date for Iowa Egg Farmer Regarding Tainted Eggs
House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry A. Waxman, democratic representative from California, and Subcommittee Chairman Bart Stupak of Michigan have announced that the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing on September 14th regarding the Salmonella enteritidis outbreak involving eggs from two Iowa farms.
DeCoster, Bethel, FDA, and USDA Will Testify in Congressional Hearing
The committee has called on Wright County Egg owner Austin “Jack” DeCoster and the owner of Hillandale Farms, Orland Bethel to testify. The two farms share close ties, including chicken and feed suppliers. DeCoster has been described as a “habitual violator” of health and safety violations on his farms. CBS News reports that he has paid millions of dollars in fines over the past 20 years.
Current investigations are focusing on the feed supplied to the chickens at Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. Testing indicates that the feed was tainted with the same salmonella bacteria strain found in those who tested positive for salmonellosis after eating the recalled eggs.
To date, 550 million eggs have been recalled by the US Food and Drug Administration and 1300 illnesses are being investigated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Also requested to testify at the hearing will be the FDA, which oversees the safety of shell eggs, and the US Department of Agriculture, which oversees other egg products and animal disease. Records of inspections and past communications with the two farms will be presented.
Representative Rosa DeLauro is also requesting information about the apparent lack of action taken by the agencies regarding farming violations. “Workers were forced to handle manure and dead chickens with their bare hands and to live in filthy trailers,” she writes. “This pattern of regulatory non-compliance by the DeCoster operations should have served as a warning to regulators and warranted additional scrutiny of the company’s ability to comply with food safety standards.”