An Ohio poultry facility linked to the latest egg recall over Salmonella-contamination concerns was reportedly the recipient of a $125-million investment by Austin “Jack” DeCoster, the man who owned the two Iowa farms linked to the August 2010 recall of 550 million potentially contaminated eggs. The Ohio Agriculture Department apparently indicated earlier this year that DeCoster was still an investor in Ohio Fresh Eggs. The latest recall involves nearly 300,000 eggs distributed in eight states. While no confirmed illnesses have been linked to the eggs, egg seller Cal-Maine, Inc. reportedly said “consumers who believe they may have purchased potentially affected shell eggs should not eat them.”
According to a news source, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked the August outbreak to at least 1,600 illnesses. DeCoster was called before a House oversight subcommittee in September and apologized for the incident, saying “We were horrified to learn that our eggs may have made people sick.” He received a warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration, which found significant unsanitary conditions and health-code violations at DeCoster’s Iowa facilities. He is also reportedly facing nearly a dozen lawsuits already filed by individuals allegedly sickened by eating the tainted eggs. Plaintiffs’ lawyer William Marler has reportedly found more than 100 potential clients and is coordinating their lawsuits. He apparently asked on his blog, “Why is this ‘habitual violator’ not closed?”
Meanwhile, some lawyers say it will be difficult for these plaintiffs to prove they became sick because they ate contaminated eggs. Many apparently lack the proof they need to bring a successful lawsuit; without a positive culture matching the bacterial strain responsible for the outbreak, a plaintiff will be hard-pressed to link egg consumption to the illness. Most food-borne complaints are reportedly settled out of court. See The Washington Post,November 8, 2010; The Christian Science Monitor and The Los Angeles Times, November 9, 2010.