The F.D.A. released inspection reports today that show numerous violations at Wright County egg farms that were the source of millions of eggs that have been linked to the salmonella outbreak and massive egg recall. The inspections were the first conducted under new egg safety rules that went into effect in July — after the salmonella outbreak was first reported.
F.D.A. regional director, David Elder, talked about the reports — which are called 483’s — during a conference call with reporters. He says inspections that the operators of the Quality Egg hen houses in Clarion and Galt in Wright County failed to take steps to prevent salmonella.
He says the company failed to keep stray poultry, wild birds and other animals access to the building. Elder says manure was piled four to eight feet high in some buildings and it push out the sides and allowed wild animals access. He says rodents and other animals could enter the buildings due to structural damage such as missing siding. Elder says the openings in the buildings allowed all kinds of unwanted access.
“Our investigators observed bird nests and birds in one poultry house, live rodents in at least one poultry house at several plants, and live and dead flies that were too numerous to count in many poultry houses at certain plants,” Elder says, “the live flies were observed on an around egg belts, feed, shell eggs and walkways to different sections of the egg-laying areas.” He says the flies were all over some buildings. He says there were live flies crushed under foot when employees walked, and there were live and dead maggots observed in the manure pit.
Elder says they also found problems with preventing salmonella at hen houses operated by Hillandale Farms in West Union and Alden. Elder says investigators found that the plant operators had failed to eliminate entryways for rodents and other pests into the egg production facilities, to bait and seal rodent burrow holes at the facilities, and to eliminate the potential areas where rodents could live. Elder says the plant employees did not take proper steps to change clothing to prevent contamination when moving between buildings.
Doctor Jeff Ferra also talked about a D.N.A. test conducted at the plant. Ferra says they have “confirmed salmonella with an indistinguishable D.N.A. finger print” from one of the Hillandale plants in water that is used to wash the eggs as they come down the line in the facility. Elder and other F.D.A. officials says they will review these inspection reports and all other information before taking any action against the Iowa egg producer. They refused to speculate on any penalties against the company, saying it is an ongoing investigation.
They also said they will conduct similar inspections at all U.S. egg producing plants in the country. Wright County egg is owned by Jack DeCoster, who has a history of environmental violations in the state.
Hillendale egg report: Hillandale Eggs PDF
Wright County egg report: Wright County Egg PDF