Jack DeCoster’s Salmonella Touch: Another massive egg recall

By Rady Ananda
Food Freedom

Another massive egg recall, another tie to scofflaw Jack DeCoster.

Nearly 300,000 eggs have been recalled, affecting eight states, after Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. got word on Friday from the FDA that eggs from one of its suppliers, Ohio Fresh Eggs, tested positive for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE). Cal-Maine processed and packaged 24,000 dozen eggs in its Green Forest, Arkansas facility under the Sunny Meadow, Springfield Grocer, Sun Valley and James Farm labels.

Cartons bearing plant number P1457 with Julian dates of 282, 284 and 285 are being recalled. The Julian date follows the plant number, for example: P1457-282.

11/9 UPDATE: An additional 120 dozen shell eggs that have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), were added today to the products included in this recall.

Product Description Plant Number Julian Date Sell By / Expiration Date
Pippin Loose Medium 1457 282 11/07/10

The eggs involved, which were not produced from Cal-Maine flocks, were distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. There have been no confirmed SE illnesses related to the purchased eggs, reports Cal-Maine.

The FDA released the information this morning, three days after notifying Cal-Maine.

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Jack DeCoster invested in Ohio Fresh Eggs, reported The Iowa Independent:

“Ohio Fresh Eggs has had ties with both Orland Bethel and Austin “Jack” DeCoster, the two men behind Iowa egg production companies at the center of a recent massive egg recall….

“In December 2006, the Ohio Department of Agriculture ordered Ohio Fresh Eggs to shut down on grounds that its operators, Bethel and Don Hershey, neglected to report that an anonymous investor with an option to purchase the company was DeCoster, who had already been labeled as a chronic and habitual violator of environmental laws in Iowa.

“DeCoster’s name did not appear on the documents, according to Ohio authorities, because his previous run-ins with state and federal regulators would have made it more difficult for the company to operate in Ohio under a state Livestock Environmental Permitting Program.”

The revocation was later overturned.

Jack DeCoster, owner of Wright County Egg, involved in this year’s half-billion egg recall after 1,600 people were sickened by salmonella poisoning, has a decades-long history of environmental and labor law violations.

  • Providing a timeline of infractions covering decades, The Atlantic said, “[Wright County Egg owner, Jack] DeCoster has left a trail of illness, injury, mistreatment, and death in his wake for decades. That he has been left to police himself for so long is a stunning testament to the failure of federal regulators.”
  • The AP reported that “his facilities tested positive for salmonella contamination hundreds of times in the two years before this summer’s outbreak.”
  • Congressman Henry Waxman told the New York Times that for decades, “DeCoster farms have had warning after warning. Yet they continue to raise chickens in slovenly conditions and to make millions of dollars by selling contaminated eggs.”

Cal-Maine advises:

“Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis or arthritis.

“Consumers who believe they may have purchased potentially affected shell eggs should not eat them but should return them to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. Questions and concerns may also be directed to Cal-Maine’s corporate office at 1-866-276-6299 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. CDT.

“Cal-Maine Foods, Inc. is primarily engaged in the production, grading, packing and sale of fresh shell eggs. The Company, which is headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, currently is the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the United States and sells the majority of its shell eggs in approximately 29 states across the southwestern, southeastern, mid-western and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States.”

Concentrated animal feeding operations promote infection and contamination of the food supply, a direct threat to food security. Two massive recalls in a single year bolster the move toward small, free range operations.  Many urbanites would benefit by raising their own flock, as Leah Zerbe points out in 5 Reasons Why Chickens Belong in Your City, Town, or Neighborhood.

20 responses to “Jack DeCoster’s Salmonella Touch: Another massive egg recall

  1. You can bet your bottom dollar, Senator Reid and his ilk will use this to shove through S510 so our food will be safer. NOT!

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  3. I posted this to Facebook. Sadly, the more we know about DeCoster the less it seems we do to stop his egg production which keeps thousands and maybe millions of poor chickens in misery -incarcerated in cages from hell. Why aren’t his operations being shut down? What good is the USDA if they are not protecting us from diseases that come from the eggs of suffering chickens? We vegans are lucky that we will not have to worry about salmonella infecting us. However, we take no pleasure in knowing that perhaps others will not be as fortunate as we to escape illness. We also need a president and a congress to take action as well. I guess its the almighty dollar which keeps them from taking action against these cruel cafos.

  4. Allow me to put on my tin foil hat for a moment. When trying to pass the health care bill, Democratic contributor Blue Cross/Blue Shield of CA., announces big price hikes in the cost of health insurance. While trying to get through Cap and Trade, Democratic contributor BP has real bad oil spill in the Gulf. Now we have S510 Food and Safety bill not going anywhere and Democratic contributor DeCoster has a massive amount of bad eggs on his face.

    It’s most likely the media is just saturating us with these stories because of the bills before Congress and they would not have paid attention to them if it were otherwise. It makes you think though.

    Disclaimer: I am not picking on the Democrats it just happens all 3 bills and all 3 contributors happen to be associated with the Democrats. DeCoster is a life long Democrat, but the other two I’m sure will change their affiliations once the balance of power changes.

  5. No doubt there are separate alliances among the ruling class, but neither Dems nor Repubs work for the people. They all work for Big Money – whether from Big Pharma, Big Oil, Big Banks or Big Ag.

    I figure the only nonviolent way around the thugs in charge — at least as it relates to food — is for everyone to grow their own and/or buy from local, small operation farms.

    And I do mean thugs, when you consider the food raids with guns drawn, where the FDA is going after the small producer, ordering them to destroy all their product, or actually seizing and then destroying all their product, while letting Big Egg continue operations.

    The Party System only works for the vastly wealthy, not us.

  6. Below is just part of a survey I saw today that reflect the feeling of FDA scientists regarding the conduct of the FDA in handling its mandate to protect the public health in food and medical supplies. Paul

    In 2006, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Public
    Employees for Environmental Responsibility distributed a
    38-question survey to 5,918 FDA scientists in order to
    examine the state of science at the FDA. The results paint a
    picture of a troubled agency:

    Almost one in five (18 percent) responded, “I have been
    asked, for non-scientific reasons, to inappropriately
    exclude or alter technical information or my conclusions
    in an FDA scientific document.”

    More than three in five (61 percent) knew of cases in
    which “Department of Health and Human Services or
    FDA political appointees have inappropriately injected
    themselves into FDA determinations or actions.”

    Three in five (60 percent) also knew of cases “where commercial
    interests have inappropriately induced or
    attempted to induce the reversal, withdrawal or modification
    of FDA determinations or actions.”

    Fifty percent also
    felt that non-governmental interests (such as advocacy
    groups) had induced or attempted to induce such changes.

    Less than half (49 percent) agree that “FDA leadership is
    as committed to product safety as it is to bringing
    products to the market.”

    One-fifth (20 percent) say they “have been asked explicitly
    by FDA decision makers to provide incomplete, inaccurate
    or misleading information to the public, regulated
    industry, media, or elected/senior government officials.”

    In addition, more than a quarter (26 percent) feel that
    FDA decision makers implicitly expect them to “provide
    incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading information.”

    Two in five (40 percent) said they could not publicly
    express “concerns about public health without fear of
    retaliation.” More than a third (36 percent) did not feel
    they could do so even inside the confines of the agency.

  7. yeah, that’s an amazing announcement. What I don’t get is the UCS then goes on to support S 510 (via its support of mandatory recalls) …

    Reading the results of this UCS survey ought to motivate everyone to oppose the Food Safety Modernization Act, S 510, which would give the Food and Drug Administration totalitarian control over all food production and sales. The FDA and the USDA have been corrupted. The last thing they need is more power.

    But even the Consumers Union has come out in support of S 510.

    I guess now we face the backlash of our successful campaign to stall its passage.

    • It seems that many would-be reformers just don’t get it, that the kinds of things that sound so good in the good civics textbooks and the ivory tower, like for example FDA mandatory recalls, have the exact opposite effect under kleptocracy.

      Other examples include repealing the filibuster, the VAT, smart grids, etc. Under these circumstances all would just be corporatized weapons or boondoggles.

      The best we can hope for under these conditions is gridlock and for the government to do as little harm as possible.

      So I couldn’t tell from the piece, but in this case did the FDA just privately request the recall but not say anything publicly until the comany issued the recall, or did they pre-emptively publicize it like in the Morningland case? I bet I can guess the answer…

  8. oh, I thought you were talking about the 2010 study..


    “To evaluate how well the government uses science to protect the food supply, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), working with researchers at Iowa State University, sent a 44-question survey to nearly 8,000 food safety employees at the FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which together oversee our food system. More than 1,700 employees responded.

    “The results reveal a food safety system where special interests and public officials all too often inhibit the ability of government scientists and inspectors to protect the food supply….”

  9. Daily, and especially after reading an article such as this, I am reminded of this short aphorism attributed to the ancient sage, Lao Tzu:

    ‘More laws make more criminals.’

    This aphorism points to two applicable conditions which are present in today’s highly technical and bureaucratized, regimented and regulated, world:

    One–that through state regulation–ordinary, well-intentioned, good and trustworthy people are prosecuted routinely as ‘criminals’.


    Two–that again through state regulation–real criminals multiply and prosper and are treated as royalty.


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