Court documents show Iowa-based Quality Egg will pay $6.8 million in fines for crimes related to the 2010 salmonella outbreak. More than 2,000 people fell ill and 500 million eggs were recalled. Company leaders pleaded guilty to passing off eggs as not as old as they were, attempting to bribe a U.S.D.A. inspector, and to distributing tainted food.
Seattle food safety lawyer, Bill Marler, represented more than 100 of the people who were sickened. “A fine of nearly seven million dollars is pretty significant,” Marler says. He says the fine can send a message. “I’ve been doing these kinds of cases since the Jack-in-the-Box E. Coli outbreak in 1993 and this is an unprecedented fine. So, I commend the prosecutors for taking this on,” he says.
Marler says if Quality Egg’s owners Jack and Peter DeCoster go to jail, that will underscore to food companies that the government is serious about food safety regulations. The two men will appear in federal court in Sioux City today. They each have a greed to pay a $100,000 fine, and could face up to one year in jail.