Update on salmonella outbreak.

The attorneys at Liever, Hyman & Potter wish to keep the citizens of Berks County and Schuylkill County updated on this crisis and therefore provide the following reports:

USA Today (8/26, Young) reports, “State and federal health agencies identified an Iowa egg company as a likely source of illness at least two weeks before the firm launched a massive egg recall Aug. 13 and the public got its first hint of a growing national salmonella outbreak, health officials said in interviews with USA TODAY.” Late last month, the CDC “even considered reminding the public generally about the dangers of eating undercooked eggs, said Ian Williams, chief of the agency’s outbreak response branch,” but the agency “decided it would be more effective to wait until the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed its investigation of the company, Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa.” Jeff Farrar, FDA associate commissioner for food protection, said. “We have seen instances in the past where preliminary information ontrace backswas wrong.”

Wright County owner also “tangled” with Maryland health officials. TheWashington Post (8/26) reports, “The Iowa egg farmer at the center of a nationwide outbreak of salmonella illness tangled in the past with the state of Maryland, where he once ran two massive facilities and was charged with violating a quarantine by selling contaminated eggs. Austin ‘Jack’ DeCoster battled with Maryland in the early 1990s over his Eastern Shore egg empire in a dispute that highlights serious regulatory gaps in food safety that have been a factor in the industry for decades.” But, Maryland “was unable to shut down a facility it considered hazardous because the company sold the eggs across state lines.”

CDC, FDA experts say tracing outbreaks is “complex.” USA Today(8/26, Young) reports, “Government food-safety experts say they are in a tough spot when it comes to publicly fingering a product or company in an outbreak such as the one currently linked to a half-billion eggs distributed across the USA.” According to Ian Williams, chief of the CDC’s outbreak response branch, “The mantra is: You have to be fast and right.” The FDA’s Jeff Farrar stated, “This is where hindsight and second-guessing come in.”

Eggs produced at contaminated farms still being sold. The AP (8/26) reports, “Iowa hens that may be at the heart of a massive egg recall are still laying.” According to food safety experts, “the eggs will first be pasteurized to rid them of any salmonella. Then they can be sold as liquid eggs or added to other products.” Notably, “officials from the two farms that have recalled more than a half-billion eggs say there’s no reason not to use eggs being laid now while federal officials investigate the outbreak.” The AP points out that the “FDA can’t order the farms to kill hens that may be infected with salmonella, but the farms could decide to take that step on their own,” although “neither would discuss the possibility.”

These important news summaries areprovided by the American Association for Justice of which John Badal, lawyer for Liever, Hyman & Potter, Reading, PA has been a long time sustaining member.

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