F.D.A.: Objectionable conditions at egg sites

by Jeff Gelski
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WASHINGTON — Rodents, flies, wild birds and piles of manure 4 to 8 feet high were some of the objectionable conditions found in Food and Drug Administration inspections of egg-laying plants associated with a Salmonella enteriditis outbreak. The F.D.A. on Monday reported their findings and met with Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa, Inc. The reports do not constitute a final F.D.A. determination.

Both companies have told the F.D.A. they have stopped shipping eggs to consumers and will not resume until the F.D.A. is confident the conditions that favor Salmonella contamination have been eliminated. An estimated 1,470 illnesses reported from May 1 to Aug. 25 likely are associated with the outbreak, said Christopher Braden, M.D., acting director, Division Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.

The F.D.A. inspected six egg-laying farms/plants owned by Wright County Egg, Galt, Iowa, from Aug. 12-30. They found about eight frogs living under one egg-laying house. Other findings included wild birds flying inside houses, pigeons roosting in an air vent, birds’ nests, unsealed holes appearing to be rodent burrows, live mice, “live and dead flies too numerous to count” and “live and dead maggots too numerous to count.” Live flies were on and around egg belts, feed, shell eggs and walkways. Live and dead maggots were observed in a manure pit.

Chicken manure in the manure pits below egg-laying operations was observed to be about 4 feet to 8 feet high in some locations.

Wright County Egg, according to the F.D.A., failed to take to steps to ensure there was no introduction or transfer of Salmonella enteritidis. The F.D.A. listed examples such as one entry doorway to access egg-laying areas located on every other house; workers not wearing or changing protective clothing when moving from house to house; un-caged birds tracking manure into egg-laying areas; and excessive amounts of manure in the manure pits blocking an entrance door.

The F.D.A. inspected three egg-laying farms/plants owned by Hillandale Farms of Iowa, Inc., New Hampton, Iowa, from Aug. 19-26. The F.D.A. said the company did not maintain documentation that 19-week-old pullets in one house were “SE monitored” or were raised under “SE monitored” conditions, including environmental testing records for pullets.

Inside Hillandale Farms of Iowa facilities, the F.D.A. observed live rodents, rodent holes, a failure to eliminate entryways for rodents and other pests, standing water on a floor adjacent to a manure pit, liquid manure, and weeds about 12 inches tall growing around the exterior of an egg-laying house.

Hillandale Farms of Iowa, according to the F.D.A., failed to take steps to ensure there was no introduction or transfer of Salmonella enteritidis. The F.D.A. listed examples such as un-caged hens tracking manure from the manure pit into the upper level of caged hen house areas.

At a briefing Monday, Michael Taylor, the F.D.A.’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods, said the F.D.A.’s central thrust is to prevent future outbreaks. The F.D.A. over 15 months plans to inspect about 600 egg-laying facilities that account for about 80% of the country’s egg production, he said. The inspections will begin in September.
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