tagged w/ Layer Hens
FDA reports numerous violations at egg farms
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 30, 2010 7:08 p.m. EDT
Inspection reports released by the FDA noted numerous violations at nine egg-producing Iowa farms.
* Food safety advocacy group calls findings "stomach churning"
* Hillandale, Wright County Egg say some of the problems have been fixed
* Inspections find numerous violations at Iowa egg farms, FDA says
* Inspection reports do not outline compliance or enforcement actions
(CNN) -- Rodents, piles of manure, uncaged birds and flies too numerous to count were found by investigators at Iowa farms at the heart of the recall of more than half a billion eggs, the Food and Drug Administration reported Monday.
Inspection reports released by the FDA noted numerous violations at six farms operated by Wright County Egg and Quality Egg, which are owned by the same family, and three Hillandale Farms locations.
The inspections -- conducted in August, after new egg safety rules went into effect -- were launched in response to the nationwide outbreaks of salmonella that have sickened an estimated 1,470 people, according to the FDA.
Neither company fully adhered to their Salmonella enteritidis prevention plans, the inspectors said.
Federal investigators found salmonella bacteria in chicken feed and in barn and walkway areas at some of the farms, officials said last week.
Monday, health officials detailed plans to launch an inspection program of these and other facilities in the coming weeks.
On a conference call Monday, FDA officials said they had also found salmonella in water used to wash eggs at a Hillandale facility. They said it is not clear whether the eggs were washed in contaminated water or if the water was sullied by the eggs.
"Regarding the positive finding in the egg wash water, it is important to note that after washing, all the eggs are rinsed with water containing chlorine as an additional sanitation step," said Hillandale spokeswoman Julie DeYoung.
At some Wright County Egg facilities, federal inspectors found chicken manure in piles up to eight feet high. In other spots, mounds of manure prevented doors from closing, allowing rodents and other animals to possibly come inside, FDA inspectors said. "The uncaged birds were using the manure [pile] ... to access the egg-laying area."
The report said Quality Egg and Wright County Egg workers did not always wear protective clothing, that birds were in storage and milling facilities, and feed bins had rusted holes and gaps. Inspectors also found maggots, and in some areas, "live and dead flies were too numerous to count."
Inspections at three Hillandale farms found -- among other things -- rodents and rodent holes, liquid manure leaking into a chicken house and uncaged chickens tracking manure from a manure pit into a caged henhouse, the inspectors said.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a food safety advocacy group, called the FDA findings "stomach churning."
FDA officials have said new egg safety rules, which took effect in mid-July after the outbreak began, will greatly reduce the possibility of a similar salmonella outbreak.
But the center said the companies didn't properly respond to the rules.
"Both companies involved had been on notice that they needed to meet requirements of the new egg-safety rule for over a year. Instead of finding companies that were ready to meet those requirements, FDA's inspections document companies with long-standing violations and apparently little intention to comply," the center said in a statement. "The decrepit conditions in these henhouses reflect the fact that companies know that FDA inspections are so rare -- even following the adoption of a new safety regulation -- that there is no urgency to fix their buildings and their operations to assure compliance with FDA statutes and regulations."
In a statement, Hillandale said it is committed to addressing all issues raised by the FDA in order to be in "full compliance as soon as possible," so that it can again ship shell eggs.
"We are in the process of responding to the FDA's written report to provide further explanation and clarification of what was observed. Several of the issues had been identified by the facilities prior to FDA's inspection and were already in the process of being addressed during the inspection period. Additionally, some of the issues were immediately corrected as soon as they were identified."
Wright County Egg said "the vast majority" of the concerns identified in the FDA report already have been addressed or are being addressed.
"We anticipate the expeditious completion of nearly all remaining items by mid-September," the company said in a statement.
"To demonstrate our continued commitment to running our farms in the most responsible manner and to ensuring the safety of the eggs we produce, our team has worked around the clock to address concerns that were raised verbally during FDA's inspection, with many of those being fixed as soon as they were identified. ...
"Members of our farm's management team actively participated alongside FDA officials during daily site inspections, and we have carefully documented details of those inspections."
An FDA spokeswoman on Monday said the inspection reports are "merely inspectional observations and [do] not outline any compliance or enforcement actions."
She said there would also be inspections at other companies to enforce the regulations.
"While we cannot disclose a list of inspection targets, ... some factors that we will take into consideration in compiling such a list include the size of the farm, the amount of eggs produced, history of violations and connection to previous outbreaks," said Siobhan DeLancey.
Federal officials pledged Monday to inspect all 600 facilities covered under the new egg rule within the next 15 months.
Hillandale's DeYoung said the company would not respond to specifics in the report. "We have put specific action plans in place to address each issue raised and are implementing those action plans," she said.
DeYoung also said she does not believe Hillandale is being singled out by federal inspectors.
CNN's Caleb Hellerman and Phil Gast contributed to this reportFDA reports numerous violations at egg farms
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 30, 2010... more
August 17th, 2010
02:24 PM ET
Eggs recalled over salmonella concerns
Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa, is voluntarily recalling some of its eggs out of concern they may be tainted with salmonella bacteria.
After an uptick in salmonella infections, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration, traced the source and determined it was most likely eggs from Wright County Egg. The company says it is working to determine how the shell eggs are being contaminated.
Wright County Egg packages shell egg products under the following brand names: Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps. The brands are distributed nationwide. The recall affects eggs packed in several different sized cartons, from a half dozen to 18-eggs.
The Egg Safety Center says recalled eggs are in cartons with a three-digit code ranging from 136 to 225 and plant numbers P-1026, P-1413, and P-1946. The numbers are on one end of the egg carton.
Consumers are encouraged to return the eggs in their original packaging to where they were purchased for a full refund.
Salmonella bacteria can be found inside and outside of eggs that appear to be normal. For more information from the CDC on ways to reduce the risk of Salmonella poisoning from eggs click here.August 17th, 2010
02:24 PM ET
Eggs recalled over salmonella concerns
In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution.
June 3, 2010
Photo Credit: Farm Sanctuary
In a legal settlement that could affect the entire U.S. meat industry, the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to identify and investigate thousands of factory farms that have been avoiding government regulation for water pollution with animal waste.
The settlement requires the agency to propose a rule on greater information gathering on factory farms within the next 12 months. It will require the approximately 20,000 domestic factory farms to report such information as how they dispose of manure and other animal waste.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Waterkeeper Alliance filed the suit in 2009 over a rule that exempted thousands of factory farms from taking steps to minimize water pollution from the animal waste they generate.
"Thousands of factory farm polluters threaten America's water with animal waste, bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make people sick," said Jon Devine, an attorney with the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council.
"Many of these massive facilities are flying completely under the radar. EPA doesn't even know where they are," said Devine.
More than 30 years ago, Congress identified factory farms as water pollution sources to be regulated under the Clean Water Act's permit program.
But under a Bush administration regulation challenged by the environmental groups in this lawsuit, large facilities were able to escape government regulation by claiming, without government verification, that they do not discharge into waterways protected by the Clean Water Act.
Under the settlement reached May 26, the EPA will initiate a new national effort to track down factory farms operating without permits and determine if they must be regulated.
The specific information that EPA will require from individual facilities will be determined after a period of public comment. But the results of that investigation will enable the agency and the public to create stronger pollution controls in the future and make sure facilities are complying with current rules.
"The EPA's rules have failed to protect our rivers and lakes from polluting factory farms," said Ed Hopkins, director of Sierra Club's Environmental Quality Program. "Gathering more information to document factory farms' pollution will lay the groundwork for better protection of our waters."
The National Pork Producers Council expressed "deep frustration and anger" over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's continuing efforts "to develop costly agricultural regulations that provide few if any additional environmental benefits."
"With this one-sided settlement, EPA yanked the rug out from under America's livestock farmers," said Michael Formica, NPPC's chief environmental counsel. "NPPC is looking at all appropriate legal responses to EPA's disappointing course of action."
Factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, CAFOs, confine animals on an industrial scale and produce massive amounts of manure and other waste that can pollute waterways with dangerous contaminants.
These CAFOs apply liquid animal waste on land, which runs off into waterways, killing fish, spreading disease, and contaminating drinking water. The plaintiff groups cite EPA estimates that pathogens, such as E. coli, are responsible for 35 percent of the nation's impaired river and stream miles, and factory farms are one of the most common pathogen sources.
"This agreement sets the stage for new Clean Water Act permitting measures that will add to producers' costs, drive more farmers out of business, increase concentration in livestock production to comply and hurt rural economies," said Randy Spronk, a Minnesota pork producer who heads NPPC's environmental committee. "And the measures will do nothing really to improve water quality.
"Additionally," said Spronk, "the settlement was negotiated in private and without consultation or input from the regulated farming community. This flies in the face of the Obama administration's pledges to operate government more transparently. And, in this economy, the administration should be enacting measures that create jobs, not implementing regulations that put American farmers out of business."
Today there are more than 67,000 pork operations compared with nearly three million in the 1950s. Farms have grown in size; 53 percent of them now produce 5,000 or more pigs per year.
"The record is clear -- large CAFO operations, and many medium and small operations, commonly discharge pollutants into the surrounding environment," said Waterkeeper Alliance attorney Hannah Connor. "What is also clear is that if we want to continue to drink, fish and enjoy water that is not contaminated with raw animal excrement, these discharges must be stopped."
"We believe that the terms of this settlement will help reverse this industry's history of bad behavior by improving implementation and enforcement of the law," Connor said.
Litigation brought by these three groups has forced the EPA to revise its CAFO rules twice within the past decade to tighten the pollution control requirements on these facilities.In a groundbreaking legal settlement, the EPA has agreed to identify and investigate... more