DeCoster knew his eggs were dirty: Why voluntary regulations are BS

In the summer of 2010 people across the country people were sickened after eating salmonella infected eggs that originated at farms connected to the infamous environmental and health scofflaw Jack DeCoster.  In the end, more than 60,000 people were infected and over 550 million eggs were recalled.  Bad news.  I’m glad that I got my prized Iowa Egg Council spatula at Hooverfest before they had to turn their attention full time to mopping up the damage.

Despite testimony to congress that indicated surprise and horror at the outbreak, DeCoster’s company had been warned about unsafe levels of salmonella at their facilities four months previous to the widespread infections.

Iowa egg company warned about salmonella in hens months before outbreaks, records show in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Jun. 4, 2012

ISU’s Veterinary Diagnostics Laboratory found salmonella in manure at several Iowa egg-laying plants and in the internal organs of their birds, which were dying at unusually high rates, about four months before the August 2010 recall of 550 million eggs linked to the outbreak, records show.

The laboratory reported the results to the producer who had requested the tests, but scientists say they had no legal or ethical obligation to alert regulators or consumers. The tests have recently been made public in a civil lawsuit, while a federal grand jury looks into whether egg company executives misled the public by continuing to market products as safe despite potential knowledge that they were tainted.  (Emphasis added)

The legal argument I buy, the ethical one, not so much.  I think that when it becomes clear that the people receiving the test results (DeCoster’s people in this case) are not going to act to correct the problem, somebody needs to stand up to correct the problem.  Ultimately, a rigorous mandatory testing should be put in place thus negating the need to quibble over ethical arguments.  But this is yet another case where regulations are not put in place and the moneyed interests are just asked to pretty please check their eggs to make sure there is no salmonella in them.



2 Comments on “DeCoster knew his eggs were dirty: Why voluntary regulations are BS”

  1. mbstevenson says:

    Another reason why we need to get our own happy chickens! Or at least continue to buy them from people, not corporations. Oh, wait… corporations are people too…! Dang it!

  2. […] written before about why self regulation doesn’t work and specifically did not work in the case of Jack DeCoster’s Iowa egg production facilities in Iowa.  Turns out […]

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