USDA Knew of Egg Farm Problems But Failed To Act

"U.S. Department of Agriculture experts found growing sanitary problems including bugs and overflowing trash earlier this year on the Iowa farm at the center of the national egg recall, but didn't notify health authorities, according to government documents and officials.

The problems laid out in USDA daily sanitation reports viewed by The Wall Street Journal underscore the regulatory gaps that may have contributed to delays in discovering salmonella contamination. Tainted eggs sickened at least 1,470 Americans.

Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa, recalled 380 million eggs in mid-August, but people likely began getting ill around May 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The USDA was the only federal body with a regular presence at Wright, but it says it wasn't responsible for safety. USDA graders were at a Wright egg-packing plant seven days a week to oversee designations such as 'Grade A' on egg cartons.

The Food and Drug Administration, which has overall responsibility for egg safety but didn't inspect the Wright facility until this August, says it never heard from the USDA about problems such as dirt and mold. The two agencies have a formal understanding about the USDA giving the FDA notice over sanitary issues, but the USDA declined to give details."

Alicia Mundy and Bill Tomson report for the Wall St. Journal September 10, 2010.


"Egg Recall: Mouse, Fly Infestations Date Back 10 Years, Workers Say" (Des Moines Register)

Source: Wall St. Journal, 09/10/2010