Editor’s Note: Updates being made.
CROTON, Ohio — The Ohio egg farm involved in a recall of nearly a quarter-million eggs contaminated with salmonella said it will do the things necessary to ensure it never happens again.
Ohio Fresh Eggs, which has commercial facilities in Licking County, Ohio and in western Ohio, is at the center of a recall by Cal-Maine Foods — the largest producer and distributor of fresh shell eggs in the United States.
Ohio Fresh Eggs is believed to have mistakenly shipped a truckload of eggs that had tested positive for salmonella, and were supposed to be kept out of the supply. No sicknesses have been reported.
“By comparison sake, it’s a pretty small recall,” said Hinda Mitchell, the farm’s spokesperson. “(But) obviously any recall is more than we want to have happening.”
She explained the shipment as an act of human error and said measures will be taken so it never happens again.
“As a precautionary measure, we were holding those eggs and just due to human error there was one truckload of those eggs that ended up getting shipped,” she said.
Cal-Maine announced the voluntary recall Nov. 5, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The contaminated eggs were distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
The eggs appear to have a sell-by/expiration date of Nov. 24 or sooner. Product names and details of the recalled eggs can be found on the FDA’s website.
The FDA says “salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis or arthritis.”
Mitchell said it was a multi-level recall, with the eggs produced by Ohio Fresh Eggs, and processed by Cal-Maine.
She said Ohio Fresh Eggs is “putting steps in place to make sure that that type of an error doesn’t happen again.
“(They’re) working again on worker training, emphasizing the importance of getting these processes right.”
Ohio Fresh Eggs employs 350 people and is a major economic player in egg production and in grain use. It has suffered unrelated challenges throughout the year, including a fire in March that resulted in the loss of a barn and euthanasia of 250,000 birds. In August, two construction workers were killed when a storm caused a roof to collapse.
The farm has existed under its current name since 2004, when new ownership replaced the old Buckeye Egg Farm. Its owners promised many improvements, but have had some environmental and ethics-related setbacks along the way.
In 2005, the Ohio Department of Agriculture assessed civil penalties against the farm for failing to keep manure moisture levels at acceptable levels, creating fly breeding and infestation problems and drawing complaints from neighbors of the Croton facility in Licking County.
By August of the same year, the farm’s managers were served with an emergency order to reduce flies and fix water leaks at the farm’s Croton facilities.
Then-Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Fred Dailey ordered fly numbers must be cut within 24 hours, and all water leaks repaired within 48 hours. The farm complied.
Ties to other recalls
But by October of 2005, the farm was again faced with the possibility of being shut down, because of lies managers reportedly made on their permit applications. They did not mention the involvements their biggest financial investor, Austin “Jack” DeCoster, would have in their company.
The Associated Press reported he contributed $126 million to Ohio Fresh Eggs at the time it took over. He had already been labeled a “habitual violator” of environmental laws in Iowa.
All of the farms permits to operate were revoked by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in 2006, for these reasons. But the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission returned the permits, after determining the farm did not falsify information in its applications.
DeCoster has most recently been in trouble with the law after his Iowa egg farm, Wright County Egg, and another farm recalled 550 million eggs in August. His eggs were linked to as many as 1,600 illnesses.