SALEM, Ohio -Ohio Fresh Eggs in Croton, Ohio, has been ordered to destroy approximately 4.3 million eggs deemed unfit for human consumption.
The Licking County Court of Common Pleas ordered the destruction of the eggs after a routine food safety investigation by the Ohio Department of Agriculture found the eggs stored at room temperature.
State law requires eggs to be stored in a controlled environment below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Embargoed eggs. After the late-February investigation, the department embargoed the eggs and the court granted a permanent injunction Feb. 28 preventing the company from violating any more egg production and food safety laws.
“It means any future eggs that come off the line cannot be stored in this (room temperature) environment,” said Ohio Department of Agriculture spokesperson LeeAnne Mizer.
The court ruled the Ohio Department of Agriculture acted appropriately when it embargoed the eggs. The court also ordered the 4.3 million eggs to be destroyed at the company’s expense under the supervision of the department.
A message left at Ohio Fresh Eggs was not returned.
Ohio Fresh Eggs is owned and operated by Don Hershey and Orland Bethel. The company has 12 facilities in Licking, Wyandot and Hardin counties.
Previously Buckeye Egg Farm, the business was purchased by Ohio Fresh Eggs in February 2004 after Buckeye Egg had problems with environmental violations.
For a previous story, Hershey told Farm and Dairy Ohio Fresh Eggs would not carry on the notorious legacy left by Buckeye Egg. He said he wanted the new farm to be productive and an asset to the community.
Problems. In a separate matter, Ohio Fresh Eggs has a hearing June 6 with the Ohio Department of Agriculture regarding problems with its operating permits.
The company made headlines in September when Ohio Agriculture Director Fred Dailey sought to revoke the company’s operating permits for providing false or misleading information on its application.
On the applications, the company was required to identify those who control management on the farm. However, it failed to disclose Austin “Jack” DeCoster had control over the farm’s activities.
In the past, DeCoster was labeled a “habitual violator” of Iowa’s environmental laws, according to a press release issued by the Ohio Department of Agriculture in September. If DeCoster’s identity had been disclosed on the applications, an investigation would have revealed the history of noncompliance.
Such investigations are required to prevent a person with a history of noncompliance from controlling farms in Ohio.
This matter is being handled separately from the problem requiring the destruction of the eggs.
More problems. Ohio Fresh Eggs was also in the media spotlight in August when it was served with an emergency order to reduce flies and fix water leaks at the Croton facilities.
According to the state department of agriculture, farm operators fixed both problems within 24 hours and met the approval of inspectors.
Also, in June, Dailey proposed fining the company $212,000 because manure moisture levels at the farm were at unacceptable levels, creating infestation and breeding problems with flies and causing complaints from nearby residents.
The company disagreed with the fine and requested a formal hearing. No date has been set, according to ODA spokesman Bill Schwaderer.
The department plans to settle the matter involving the operating permits first, he said.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
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