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FDA allows Hillandale farms to sell eggs after recall

Rodents are considered a major source of salmonella contamination in egg farms, because they can leave infected feces in the feed which is then consumed by the hens.

Hillandale Farms of New Hampton, one of the Iowa egg producers tied to the salmonella contamination that sickened thousands this summer, is open for business starting Monday, after the company adopted adequate measures to improve conditions and clean up its facilities.

On Oct. 15, the company received a letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granting it permission to resume shipping shelled eggs to stores from three of its egg houses in West Union.

In the letter to Hillandale, the FDA noted, "(We) find your corrective actions to be adequate. We note your agreement to clean and disinfect houses one (1) and two (2) prior to repopulating and your commitment to comply with the requirements of the Egg Safety Rule."

Meanwhile, four others henhouses of the company have still to undergo four rounds of salmonella testing to ensure they are clean before they get clearance for selling to consumers.

In addition, two more of their buildings must be disinfected before housing new flocks. Hillandale has also promised to enhance its surveillance system and frequently test for salmonella contamination.

On Oct. 15, Hillandale received a letter from the FDA granting it permission to resume shipping shelled eggs to stores from three of its egg houses in West Union.

Wright County Egg not cleared to sell eggs
Wright County Egg, the other Iowa farm that was the central focus of the salmonella outbreak, has not been cleared to sell fresh eggs yet.

In mid August, the company had initiated a nationwide recall of shell eggs that went to grocery stores, distributors, and wholesalers in 22 states and Mexico.

These entities then distributed the shell eggs further throughout the country under different brand names.

An investigation of the Wright County Egg after the recall in August by the health regulators found unsanitary conditions and multiple violations of federal egg-safety regulations throughout the farms.

Deplorable conditions with live mice were spotted in a number of henhouses.

Rodents are considered a major source of salmonella contamination in egg farms, because they can leave infected feces in the feed which is then consumed by the hens.

FDA sends warning letter to Jack DeCoster
In a letter, the FDA has urged Jack DeCoster, the owner of Wright County Egg, to take “prompt and aggressive action” to clean up their facilities and eliminate salmonella from the farms.

The agency would re-inspect the egg houses to ensure that the corrective measures have been undertaken.

The agency warned that the company would have to face severe consequences, such as seizure of products and shutting down of operations, if the problems are not rectified.

Wright County Egg spokeswoman Hinda Mitchell stated, “We responded swiftly and had expeditious completion of the issues that were raised. We continue to cooperate fully with FDA and will respond to this letter accordingly.”