FDA Warns Egg Producer Linked to Salmonella Outbreak

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent a warning letter to Wright County Egg, one of the facilities implicated in a recent salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,600 people and led to the recall of more than 500 million eggs. The Los Angeles Times reports:

The warning letter, dated Friday and made public Monday, followed weeks of negotiations between Wright County Egg and federal officials over how the company would correct a lengthy list of sanitation and biosecurity deficiencies identified by FDA inspectors in visits to the mammoth laying facilities.

The letter contains some pretty disgusting details that I won’t repeat here. FDA encouraged the facility to take “prompt and aggressive actions to eliminate the Salmonella Enteritidis contamination and the observations described in this letter.” Though the agency did not provide a deadline, the letter threatens “regulatory action…without further notice.”

Wright County Egg is owned by Decoster Farms, a known scofflaw that has been cited for occupational safety, fair labor, and environmental violations by both federal and state regulators.

Meanwhile, the other facility linked to the salmonella outbreak can begin shipping again from three of its egg-producing houses. In a separate letter, FDA informed Hillandale Farms that the agency is satisfied with the company’s efforts to reduce the risk of salmonella. “In addition, the three houses have been extensively tested and found to have no evidence of Salmonella contamination,” FDA said.

Though it may sound timid, warning letters are significant tools for the FDA when it comes to food safety. The agency doesn’t possess as much authority over food as it does drugs and medical devices. A bill passed by the House would go a long way toward correcting that imbalance but is being delayed in the Senate.

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