Egg Investigation Reveals Unsanitary, Defective Product

Posted on September 3, 2010

The report is stomach turning. Chicken manure piled high, rodents and wild birds carrying salmonella living near chickens that lay eggs for consumers. Chickens crowded in small cages with infections and broken bones. This NPR article contains details too sickening to describe.

That is part of the Food and Drug Administration’s report on the half-billion egg recall, the largest in U.S. history, and the sickening of approximately 1,500 people in 10 states. It is the largest epidemic of Salmonella Enteritidis in the U.S. The report states that chicken mill workers were not wearing protective clothing. FDA inspections were nowhere to be found. Welcome to modern day agriculture or agribusiness as it’s known.

New government rules went into place in July. If they had been implemented just a little bit sooner, the outbreak could have been prevented. Reportedly, the egg producers in Iowa had not even been following the federal environmental workplace rules that are on the books as no one was watching.

As a result of this massive food product recall, the FDA is planning to inspect all large egg farms in the U.S. before the end of 2011. This will be the first FDA effort to inspect large egg farms in decades.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is facing a tough challenge in the Senate, which is heavily influenced by the agriculture lobby. The bill has already been approved in the House. It would give the FDA the power to order mandatory recalls of contaminated food and to lift the registration of a food manufacturer. As it stands now, the FDA must work cooperatively with the offender, waiting for it to agree to a recall.

Industrialized agriculture churns out more than its share of defective food products to keep food cheap. But at the end of the day, E. coli and salmonella have a cost and so does the use of synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. That’s why many consumers and restaurants are now switching to cage-free eggs. In the end, consumers get to vote with their wallet which type of farm they want their food to come from.

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