Scientists at Iowa State University found that infected hens at farms managed and owned by an egg producer in Iowa were extremely likely to have been laying eggs that were contaminated with salmonella many months prior to the August 2010 recall, one of the largest food-borne illness outbreaks in the United States, reports The New York Times.
ISU scientists found traces of salmonella in the manure and internal organs of birds at many Iowa egg producing plants approximately 4 months prior to the recall of 550 million eggs in August 2010. At that time, the egg-producing plants had abnormally high death rates of birds.
While the scientists who made the discovery were obligated to inform the egg producer who had ordered the tests, they had neither legal nor moral obligations to report their disturbing findings to regulators or the public.
The results of the 2010 tests have come to light because of a civil lawsuit to determine whether the executives at egg companies who sold infected eggs lied to the public by marketing their products as safe despite the possible knowledge of salmonella contamination.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates that around 62,000 Americans were made sick by eggs tainted with salmonella, a bacterial type of food poisoning that causes abdominal pain, diarrhea and fever, and can possibly be life-threatening. No deaths were reported in the 2010 outbreak however.
Rodger Main, lab operations director, said that this specific strain of salmonella associated with the outbreak, called salmonella enteritidis, does not have to be disclosed to the federal or state governments, and in doing so, one would violate certain confidentiality agreements between the lab conducting the tests and the food producers who pay for the voluntary tests and who make the decisions as to how to deal with the results.
We will keep you updated as this civil lawsuit unfolds.
If you have been sickened or injured by a defective product, you need the experienced lawyers at Parrish Law Firm, PLLC to protect your rights as a consumer. Call us now at 703-906-4229 or email us today for a free case consultation.