Former Egg Farm Employees Say Their Complaints Were
FRIDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Two former workers at one of
the two Iowa egg farms implicated in the massive recall of
salmonella-contaminated eggs said federal inspectors who worked at
the two farms ignored complaints about conditions at one of the
Associated Press reported Friday.
The two workers, employed at Wright County Egg facilities, said
they reported problems such as leaking manure and dead chickens to
U.S. Department of Agriculture employees, but nothing was done, the
news service reported.
A spokesman for the Agriculture Department, Caleb Weaver, said
the federal employees' main duties were "grading" the eggs and they
weren't primarily responsible for looking for health problems.
Weaver also said the USDA employee who oversaw grading at the
facility did not recall anyone raising concerns, the
On Monday, U.S. health investigators detailed a slew of
violations that included the presence of manure pits, rodents and
dead flies at the two Iowa farms implicated in the recent egg
recall due to salmonella infection.
"These are significant deviations from what should be happening," Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said during an afternoon news conference at which the agency released the results of what is known as a "483" inspection report.
The "observations" are a clear violation of the new egg rule put
into place in July, added David Elder, director of the FDA's Office
of Regional Operations.
Both Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms "failed to fully
implement and follow procedures in its salmonella and derivatives
prevention plan," Elder said.
At Wright County Egg, infractions included manure piles seeping
into hen houses.
"In some cases, the manure piles were four-to-eight feet high," Elder said.
Rodents and wildlife, including wild birds, also had easy access
to poultry houses, and investigators observed "dead flies too
numerous to count" and dead flies which were "crushed underfoot"
when employees traversed the poultry houses, Elder said.
Dead maggots were even observed in the manure at one farm.
Also, "employees failed to change protective clothing when
moving from one house to another," Elder said, and they weren't
Similar violations were logged at Hillandale, with rodents
having convenient entryways into the poultry houses. Standing water
was found near manure piles and "uncaged hens were tracking manure
from the manure pit into the caged areas," Elder said.
"There was a failure to manage waste from animals that created a risk for contamination," Taylor concluded.
At the same news conference, Dr. Jeff Farrar, associate
commissioner for food protection at the FDA's Office of Foods, said
that new test results revealed "salmonella with an
indistinguishable DNA fingerprint in a water sample collected at
one of the plants at Hillandale."
"This water sample is from what's called spent egg wash water -- that is, water that is used to wash the exterior of the eggs as the eggs are coming down a conveyor line from the laying house into the packing facility," he explained.
Last week, investigators said they'd found positive samples of
salmonella bacteria in feed given to chickens at the two farms
implicated in the ongoing egg recall, suggesting that feed or feed
ingredients might be the source of the salmonella outbreak.
Still, Farrar stressed last week and at Monday's news
conference, "it's important not to draw conclusions about the
source of contamination on these farms."
Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms issued the egg recall
last month after receiving reports that salmonella had sickened
nearly 2,000 people.
At least 550 million eggs have been recalled so far, according
to federal officials. Experts stress that any shell eggs that have
been recalled from store shelves are being destroyed.
To find out if any eggs in your fridge might be affected, check
the carton for the "Sell By" date and the two numbers below it,
federal health officials said, to see if your eggs are involved in
the recall. One number is the plant number, and the other is the
packaged date, or Julian date, showing what day of the year the
eggs were packaged. For example, Jan. 1 is 001 and Dec. 31 is 365.
The Food and Drug Administration has a list of what numbered
designations are included in the recall.
In healthy people, salmonella can cause fever, abdominal cramps
and diarrhea and usually lasts four to seven days. However,
contamination can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in
young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened
Harmful bacteria such as salmonella are the most common cause of
food-borne illnesses, according to federal health officials.
Learn more about salmonella at the U.S.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Copyright © 2010
. All rights reserved.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.