September 10, 2012 — Centrum Valley Farms, one of the largest producers of eggs in Iowa, has been sent a warning letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after inspectors found evidence of Salmonella contamination. The farm has been under heightened surveillance since 2010, when it was linked to an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning that sickened 2,000 people. The company recalled more than 500 million eggs.
Centrum Valley Farms told the Associated Press that FDA inspects detected Salmonella heidelberg (SH) bacteria in two of six poultry barns. The company said they have already taken steps to address the issue, including removing several lots of eggs as a precautionary measure. After the eggs tested negative for salmonella, they were sold.
The FDA warning letter, dated August 14, cites the farm for health violations and eggs that “have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth.” According to John W. Thorsky, Director of the Kansas City District of the FDA, “SH has caused several egg-associated outbreaks resulting in human illness and at times death. Given this body of evidence, FDA considers SH within a poultry house environment to be a public health threat.”
Centrum Valley Farms has 15 days to submit a response to the FDA regarding how they will address the violations. The company said, “Providing safe, high-quality eggs to Centrum Valley Farms customers is our obligation.” They have also agreed to implement some improvements, which FDA inspectors will look for in the next inspection.
Centrum Valley took over the egg farm after Jack DeCoster was implicated in the 2010 outbreak of salmonella that sickened 2,000 people. DeCoster had a history of violating state and federal law for health, environment, and labor laws dating back to 1996.
Salmonella food poisoning (or, “salmonellosis”) is a gastrointestinal disease caused by many strains of Salmonella bacteria. The illness typically begins with a sudden bout of watery or bloody diarrhea, followed by several days of nausea, vomiting, fever, abdominal cramps, headache, muscle aches, and other debilitating symptoms. A healthy adult can typically recover from salmonellosis within seven days. The disease can be life-threatening for children, the elderly, people with a weak immune system, or pregnant women. The most severe complications include dehydration and life-threatening blood infection.
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