June 18, 2018

Decosters Sentenced to Jail in 2010 Salmonella Egg Outbreak

The owners of Quality Egg LLC, dba Wright County Egg, which produced eggs linked to a massive Salmonella outbreak in 201o, are going to face jail time for their role. Jack DeCoster and Peter DeCoster are going to serve three months in prison for introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.

SalmonellaThe DeCosters both pleaded guilty last year. After the jail time, they will serve a year of probation and must pay $100,000 each. Quality Egg must pay $6.79 million and was placed on probation for three years. The sentence was handed down April 13, 2015 in Sioux City, Iowa by U.S. District Court Judge Mark W. Bennett in the Northern District of Iowa.

That outbreak sickened almost 2,000 people across the United States. More than 500,000,000 eggs were recalled nationwide as a result of this outbreak. According to the multiplier for Salmonella, which is 30.3, that means that as many as 60,000 people may be been sickened across the country.

Attorney Ryan Osterholm, a lawyer who specializes in food poisoning litigation said, “if you are selling food in America, it better be safe.”¬†Osterholm and PritzkerOlsen represented victims of this outbreak.

Quality Egg pleaded guilty in June 2014 to misbranding eggs so they would seem fresher, and to bribing public officials. Employees tried to bribe a USDA inspector to let them sell eggs that did not meet federal standards. According to the complaint, food safety audits were also doctored, and eggs were shipped with false processing and expiration dates. The company also misled major customers about the company’s food safety practices.

In fact, tests found Salmonella in the layer barns and the organs of the layer hens from 2006 through 2010, and the frequency of the positive test results grew. Quality Egg personnel concealed from regulators the company’s failures to follow food safety standards and practices. They also filed inaccurate claims about the company’s biosecurity and pest control practices.

U.S. Attorney Kevin W. Techau for the Northern District of Iowa said in a statement, “the message this prosecution and sentence sends is a stern one to anyone tempted to place profits over people’s welfare. Corporate officials are on notice. If you sell contaminated food you will be held responsible for your conduct. Claims of ignorance or ‘I delegated the responsibility to someone else’ will not shield them from criminal responsibility.”

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