Mass Egg Farming Regulations Still Slack After Outbreaks
Last year, mass salmonella outbreaks caused 1900 illnesses. Along with salmonella outbreaks – other diseases, rodent infestations, and egg brand names are withheld from FDA reports and the public.
While over regulation obstructs businesses and raises food costs, it would seem unjust for the FDA to overlook real potential food safety problems and shut down raw milk clubs.
Egg farm regulations still skimpy
One year after 1,900 people were sickened and a half-billion Iowa eggs were recalled, government inspectors continue to find unsanitary conditions and inadequate protections against salmonella on Iowa’s egg farms.
None of the violations has resulted in penalties from state or federal agencies, and Iowa’s egg producers still aren’t required to tell state officials when they find salmonella.
Records obtained by The Des Moines Register under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that some of Iowa’s major egg producers aren’t meeting minimum federal standards intended to protect consumers from salmonella enteritidis — a potentially fatal bacterial infection that triggered a nationwide egg recall last August.
Critical elements in the Food and Drug Administration’s reports — such as the size of rodent infestations, the brand names under which the eggs are sold and even the names of diseases documented at the egg farms — are blacked out and withheld from the public.
Iowa has been the No. 1 egg-producing state in the nation for the past 10 years.
Eggs are generally safe, said Jeff Nelken, a food safety consultant based in Los Angeles. But, he added, the salmonella outbreak in 2010 demonstrated they’re not safe enough.
Despite new federal rules intended to give consumers greater protection against food-borne illnesses:
•Inspections at egg farms are announced days in advance. Government officials do little on-site testing for salmonella.
•Penalties for health and safety violations that could lead to salmonella poisoning don’t exist at the state and federal levels.
•Federal food safety laws that take effect next year will apply only to farms that have 3,000 or more hens, leaving dozens of Iowa egg producers largely unregulated.
By Clark Kauffman, The Des Moines Register
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