Iowa egg company fined $6.8 million over 2010 Salmonella outbreak
Iowa egg producer Quality Egg LLC, which sold Salmonella-contaminated eggs linked to a massive outbreak in 2010, agreed to pay a $6.8 million fine after pleading guilty yesterday to misdemeanor charges, according to media reports.
Tens of thousands of people were sickened in the outbreak, which began in the late summer of 2010, and upwards of 550 million eggs were recalled. The company reportedly sold tainted eggs for about 8 months beginning in January 2010, says a USA Today story.
The newspaper said the company pleaded guilty to one count of bribery of a public official (a US Department of Agriculture inspector given cash to allow the sale of tainted eggs), one count of introducing misbranded (false processing and expiration dates) food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud, and one count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.
In addition, the company owners, Austin (Jack) DeCoster, of Turner, Maine, and his son Peter DeCoster, of Clarion, Iowa, each pleaded guilty to one count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, the story said.
Prosecutors in the case said that although there was no evidence that the DeCosters knew their company was selling contaminated products, they are responsible for its activities. The men could be sentenced to serve jail time of up to 1 year, pay fines of $100,000 each, and provide additional restitution for victims, says an Associated Press (AP) story.
Jun 3 USA Today story
Jun 4 AP story
Two Salmonella strains cited in chia-linked outbreaks in US, Canada
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) update yesterday says 17 cases of illness caused by two strains of Salmonella, all of them linked to eating organic chia seed powder, have now been reported in 10 states. The case count is up by 5 since May 29.
The strains involved are Salmonella Newport, responsible for 12 cases reported earlier, and Salmonella Hartford, blamed for 5 more. The latter matches the strain recently identified by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) as the cause in 5 of 9 cases of salmonellosis there that are also linked to chia seed powder; Salmonella Newport was responsible for the other 4. The CDC and PHAC are collaborating on investigating the outbreak.
Two ill persons in the US outbreak have required hospitalization, as has one in Canada. Illness-onset dates ranged from Jan 21 to May 5, and patient ages range from 4 to 81 years. The update notes that illnesses after May 16 may not yet have been reported.
California-based Navitas Naturals recalled products containing organic sprouted chia seed late in May. This followed a recall by Ontario-basedAdvantage Health Matters of products called Organic Traditions and Back 2 the Garden. Consumers are warned by the CDC not to eat the products, which are available in numerous stores and online and have a long shelf life.
Jun 3 CDC update
Jun 2 CIDRAP News item on Canadian illnesses