The Incredible Inedible Egg!

From The Washington Post:

The Iowa egg producer that federal officials say is at the center of a salmonella outbreak and recalls of more than a half-billion eggs has repeatedly paid fines and settled complaints over health and safety violations and allegations ranging from maintaining a “sexually hostile work environment” to abusing the hens that lay the eggs.

In the past 20 years, according to the public record, the DeCoster family operation, one of the 10 largest egg producers in the country, has withstood a string of reprimands, penalties and complaints about its performance in several states.


Original movie poster

In June, for instance, the family agreed to pay a $34,675 fine stemming from allegations of animal cruelty against hens in its 5-million bird Maine facility.

…snip…

DeCoster owns Wright County Egg in Iowa, which last week recalled 380 million eggs distributed nationwide. A federal investigation into 26 outbreaks of salmonella enteritidis, the second-leading cause of food-borne illness, found that 15 of the outbreaks pointed to Wright County Egg.

The DeCoster family also has close ties to Hillandale Farms of Iowa, which on Friday recalled 170 million eggs distributed to 14 states in the Midwest and West after scientists in Minnesota linked one salmonella outbreak to Hillandale.

…snip…

As the family’s holdings have expanded, so has the list of allegations against it:

– In 1996, DeCoster was fined $3.6 million for health and safety violations at the family’s Turner egg farm, which then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich termed “as dangerous and oppressive as any sweatshop we have seen.” Regulators found that workers had been forced to handle manure and dead chickens with their bare hands and to live in filthy trailers.

– In 1999, the company paid $5 million to settle a class-action lawsuit involving unpaid overtime for 3,000 workers.

– In 2001, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that DeCoster was a “repeat violator” of state environmental laws, citing violations involving the family’s hog-farming operations. The family was forbidden to expand its hog-farming interests in the state.

– Also in 2001, DeCoster Farms of Iowa settled, for $1.5 million, a complaint brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that the company had subjected 11 undocumented female workers from Mexico to a “sexually hostile work environment,” including sexual assault and rape by supervisors.

– In 2002, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the family’s Maine Contract Farming branch $345,810 for an array of violations. The same year, DeCoster Egg Farms of Maine paid $3.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed in 1998 by Mexican workers alleging discrimination in housing and working conditions.

– In 2003, Jack DeCoster paid the federal government $2.1 million as part of a plea agreement after federal agents found more than 100 undocumented workers at his Iowa egg farms. It was the largest penalty ever against an Iowa employer. Three years later, agents found 30 workers suspected of being illegal immigrants at a DeCoster farm in Iowa. And in 2007, raids at other DeCoster Iowa farms uncovered 51 more suspected undocumented workers.

– In 2006, Ohio’s Agriculture Department revoked the permits of Ohio Fresh Eggs because its new co-owners, including Hillandale founder Orland Bethel, had failed to disclose that DeCoster had put up $126 million for the purchase, far more than their $10,000, and was heavily involved in managing the company. By playing down DeCoster’s role, the owners had avoided a background check into DeCoster’s “habitual violator” status in Iowa. An appeals panel overturned the revocation, saying the disclosure was adequate.

– In 2008, OSHA cited DeCoster’s Maine Contract Farming for violations that included forcing workers to retrieve eggs the previous winter from inside a building that had collapsed under ice and snow.

And that’s not all, kids. From Maine Today (May 5, 2007):

A Maine Human Rights Commission investigator has found reasonable grounds for a manager’s claim that he was fired from his job at DeCoster farms because he’s an atheist.

…snip…
The official reason for [Cacy] Cantwell’s firing in November 2006 was “poor job performance,” but the commission’s investigator, Barbara Lelli, said Cantwell received no written warnings about performance problems.
Cantwell, who was provided housing he shared with a non-married partner, said he was criticized by Austin “Jack” DeCoster, a devout Christian, who didn’t approve of the living arrangement.
On another occasion, DeCoster brought up God, and Cantwell said he was an atheist.  Cantwell told the investigator that DeCoster put his hand on his shoulder and told him: “I can’t have someone like you here.  We might need to part ways.”

From The Washington Post:

SALMONELLA enteritidis is a food-borne illness so common that the Food and Drug Administration moved last year to enact rules first proposed during the Bill Clinton administration. The new monitoring and safety requirements didn’t go into effect until last month. That was too late to possibly prevent the more than 1,200 cases of the illness, in at least 22 states, that have been reported since May. No deaths have been reported. But this latest outbreak highlights once again that efforts to sew up the holes in the country’s food safety net have gone nowhere for more than a year.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg called it an “unfortunate irony” that the egg regulations became enforceable after the current outbreak was well underway.

…snip…

If there’s a silver lining in the massive recall, it is that this latest outbreak of food-borne illness (remember peanuts, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, etc.) appears to have sparked action in the Senate, where comprehensive food-safety legislation has languished since July 2009. The bill would give the FDA the power to initiate a mandatory recall of contaminated products. And it would set up systems to trace food from farm to fork, thus making it easier and faster to pinpoint sources of contamination. A vote by the full Senate is expected as soon as it returns Sept. 13. In the meantime, go to http://www.foodsafety.gov to find out which brands of eggs are affected and what you can do to protect yourself.

32 Comments

Filed under Atheism, Bill Clinton, Christianity, Environment, humor, Immigration, Iowa, parody, politics, religion, Senate, Sexual Harassment, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

32 responses to “The Incredible Inedible Egg!

  1. mainefem

    This one is goin’ on my B profile, Nonnie.

    The idiot is still operating in Turner, Maine, BTW.

    *Excellent* work!!

  2. … “sexually hostile work environment” to abusing the hens that lay the eggs.

    Ummm … What, exactly, is he doing to the hens?

    Wait. Forget that I asked. Please.

    • i’m wondering what this might have done to sue lowden’s chickens for healthcare plan. it would be just too ironic to pay for treatment for egg-transmitted salmonella with a chicken.

      • I haven’t really looked into this much, but I strongly suspect that this guy heads up one of those farming outfits such that you wouldn’t recognize the chickens …

        When I first heard of this story, the reporter asked something like, “Do we know the cause of this outbreak?”

        I answered (as I do … I answer the radio; sometimes my wife is in the car so it looks less weird), “Factory farming. What else would it be?”

        Not exactly rocket surgery.

        • the more i googled about this guy, the more sick to my stomach i got. i haven’t eaten eggs lately, so i don’t think it was salmonella.

          • I’m just glad he’s got that “devout Christian” thing going for him … I mean, imagine if he was one of those god-hating atheists!

            • yeah, those atheists do horrible things, like being cruel to animals, turning away when they know their employees are being raped, lying to the government, and being okay with poisoning thousands of people if it means you can save a few pennies. oh wait…

  3. jeb

    See this is exactly why we don’t need all of those pesky socialist regulations. We should just let the free market work it’s magic that it does so well without any oversight or interference! Look how well it’s working.

    • i think rethuglicans who hate regulations should be forced to eat soft-boiled and over-easy eggs for breakfast every morning in the cafeteria. oh, and none of the cafeteria workers can wear hairnets.

  4. writechic

    Monster sleaze…it just kept getting worse and worse. Right on down to rapes by supervisors (overseers?)! Sounds like he has a plantation empire (built on worker exploitation and poisoning Americans).

  5. So you are saying he’s a bad egg??

    No yoke.

    Not all he’s cracked up to be.

  6. With all the factory farms being the industry standard now, maybe it’s time for someone to write “The New Jungle”. They say now the egg culprit is mice. Who would have thought with 5 million chickens cooped up that a mouse would get in? And those pig farms are an aesthetic and environmental abomination. Giant lakes of putrified pigshit that explode into geysers! One visit and you’d never eat meat again.

    • the culprit is greed. these guys make sure that all the small businesses can’t afford to exist once the big guys take over. when all the little guys have been wiped out, the big guys figure they can do whatever they want, because they’re too big to fail.

      p.s. doesn’t think guy remind you of larry craig? not sure what reminds me of him. must be the ickiness.

    • “The New Jungle” already exists. It’s “Fast Food Nation.” If you want a double dose, watch “Food, Inc.” Here’s the trailer.

      • i saw that a while ago, and it was scary. i’ve started doing most of my food shopping at a little local store near here. they get their fruits and veggies from local farmers. they’re actually cheaper than the big supermarkets, and the food tastes so much better.

  7. GreenApples

    Eggsellent post. I like the lapel pin you gave him, nonnie. Another gift from big business, if you have hundreds of thousands of birds in enclosed sheds you’re asking for this kind of thing to happen. The big guys drive out the little ones and put them out of business. This is what we get when the corporations get to vote with their money and support the the politicians that foster the bigger over the better.

    Nonnie, what is the timstamp on your posts? I can never figure it out. ;)

    • just think how much better people would be off financially if small farmers and small suppliers were allowed to exist on a level playing field. food would be fresher, people would be healthier, and local economies would be renewed.

      the story of the timestamp is this. the owner of the raisin is actually mighty mikk0mouse, not me. he lives on the other side of the pond, and the blog is on greenwich time. i try to post at 8 p.m. eastern time, which shows up as midnight greenwich/raisin time. when the clocks change, i try to post at , which is 12 g/r time.

  8. Nonnie, excellent work here again. Hmmm, let’s see, paying fines instead of complying with federal regulations ? When the egg market bottoms out there will be plenty of room for this shitbird at Massey Energy and BP. Gotta love the pattern here, all roads lead to profit even if a few thousand people get sick on eggs and 20 or 30 miners get blown up and suffocated, a dozen rig workers or so get annihilated and the entire Gulf gets a petro spa treatment… Scumbags all of them.

    • thanks mick. i’m really tired of these shitheads who think that the rules don’t apply to them, because they have a lot of money. we see the same thing now in the elections. people think they can buy political offices, and it appears they might be correct. they can certainly buy politicians.

  9. Nonnie, it appears your boy capn underpants blew through 20 million of barbie doll’s beer money just to win what, a primary ? He could have bought a lotta metamucil, fasteeth and compression stockings with that loot.

  10. Joanaroo

    Well, Geezus! How am I not so surprised that Mr. Chicken Lickin is a Republickin and a so-called Christian? I guess because there are no Bible verses that say *Do not raise thee chickens in filth as thy chicken’s eggs will cause vomiting, diarrhea and flu symptoms*,*Do not choke thy chicken*, and *Do not cheat thy public for those thou cheatest may be asinine Christian Republicans like thee*, this louse thinks he’s above the law. Asshole should be made to drink a glass of raw eggs ala the Rocky movies!

  11. Joanaroo

    By the way, where are all the Rethugs that are shooting off about how high the crime rate is in border states, when it is always the migrant worker who is always the one literally getting fucked? You don’t hear them backtracking when one of their own vermin is a guilty party! Bastards!

    • unfortunately, no matter how many crimes this asswipe and his friends commit, they probably won’t go to jail. their lawyers will file all kinds of papers to make sure the case is delayed as long as possible. then, they’ll make a deal with the prosecutors so that they have to pay fines instead of stand trial. of course, the fines won’t make much of a dent in their fortunes, as they have most likely made sure that they’ve hidden most of their assets. if all that fails, then the attorneys will cry crocodile tears and lament that the old bastards are too old to go to jail. of course, they didn’t give a damn if elderly people ate their eggs and got sick as a result.

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