The general manager of one of the Iowa egg farms that was recently noted for violations by the F.D.A. for not following its protocol for preventing salmonella, says they quickly made adjustments to the plan to comply. Southwest Iowa Egg’s Rich Hall says it was the first look by inspectors since they created their new plan.

He says they hired a veterinary consultant to help develop the plan, and implemented that plan according to the vet’s best interpretation of F.D.A. requirements. “You know, you think you’re doing everything right until you actually have your first audit, and then you get feedback back on where you can improve on your documentation, and that’s what happened when we had the inspection in April,” Hall says.

The new plan was created after eggs from other Iowa plants were linked to the nationwide salmonella outbreak one year ago. The F.D.A. gave company officials Southwest Iowa Egg a poster detailing some of the regulations pertaining to egg production, but imposed no penalties. Hall says they made changes at the Massena plant when the implemented the new salmonella prevention plan.

He says when facility first opened, they allowed tours, but that practice was stopped not long thereafter, to prevent contamination, and provide for a safe product that’s shipped to the consumer. Hall says they have even gone beyond federal requirements to ensure the eggs are safe.

He says the birds have been vaccinated for salmonella for three years, which is not required. In addition, their facilities have been tested twice, once by the F.D.A., and a second time by an independent lab. No evidence of salmonella was ever found. Hall says an audit in July of the cooperative’s north facility, did not reveal any problems with documentation.

Southwest Iowa Egg was one of the facilities included in a report in the Des Moines Register Sunday on how the facilities are handling salmonella regulations one year after the nationwide outbreak. Iowa is the nation’s leading egg producer, with 57-million hens laying 14 billion eggs per year.

By Ric Hanson, KJAN, Atlantic