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FDA allows sale of shell eggs from Wright County Egg

By Staff | Dec 2, 2010

By LINDSEY

MUTCHLER

For Farm News

GALT – Wright County Egg in Galt received the OK from the Food and Drug Administration to resume selling shell eggs from two of its 18 hen houses that have been deemed salmonella-free and in compliance by the administration Tuesday.

The company has not shipped shell eggs since August when it voluntarily recalled millions of eggs in connection with a salmonella outbreak that sickened an estimated 1,600 individuals across the U.S. Instead, the eggs produced were further pasteurized and processed at a breaker plant.

“During the outbreak, I said the FDA would not agree to the sale of eggs to consumers from Wright County Egg until we had confidence that they could be shipped and consumed safely,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg in a press release issued Tuesday. “After four months of intensive work by the company and oversight, testing, and inspections by FDA, I am satisfied that time has come.”

The egg operation – owned by Jack DeCoster and run by his son Peter – was given the opportunity to clean up the farms after an FDA inspection outlined numerous biosecurity lapses on the farms in August including contaminated feed, infected pullets and a contaminated laying environment.

Peter DeCoster wrote in a press release that extraordinary measures are in place to ensure the chickens and eggs are healthy and safe for consumption.

“We recognize that we will have to continue to do more than is expected of us as we resume operations at our Iowa farms, both to ensure our ongoing compliance with FDA regulations and to reestablish successful relationships with our customers,” Peter DeCoster wrote.

He went on to say that the company is working with outside experts in salmonella prevention and has increased testing under its vaccination program. Additionally, the FDA said the company is now testing its feed ingredients, removed infected hens and cleaned the houses, and put into place a system to control and monitor rodents on a weekly basis.

In the past six weeks, 13 FDA inspectors collected and analyzed 40 feed samples, 236 environmental samples and 13,900 shell eggs at the Wright County Egg facilities. Based on those tests, the agency concluded the sale of shell eggs was warranted.

The agency said it will continue to conduct environmental and egg sampling tests along with periodic inspections at the farms as corrective actions continue to be implemented on Wright County Egg farms.

Another farm implicated in the salmonella outbreak, Hillandale Farms in New Hampton, were allowed by the FDA to ship shell eggs in October.

The two Wright County Egg barns resuming shell egg production will produce about 3.7 million dozen eggs each year.

No criminal charges have been filed by the state agencies against either egg company. An FDA spokeswoman said its investigation was ongoing and declined to comment further.

You can contact Lindsey Mutchler at (515) 573-2141 or lindsey@messengernews.net.

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