A warning letter from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Texas-based Mahard Egg Farm Inc. about serious violations of federal regulations intended to prevent Salmonella contamination in egg production was just made public. The violations were observed at the company’s Sulfur, Oklahoma, facility last October when company representatives were initially warned. The letter acknowledges an email response from the company, but deemed the response insufficient in addressing the agency’s concerns.
Food Safety News summed up the violations as “related to fly control, rodents, evidence of wild birds and animals in poultry houses, sheep too near poultry houses and improper Salmonella testing procedures.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that before such regulations were put in place for egg producers beginning in the 1970s, Salmonella on the outside of the shell eggs was a common occurrence – resulting from chicken feces. In the 1960s, the Washington Post reports, researchers discovered that strains of Salmonella found on the outside of eggs were the same as the strains found in the feces of hens laying the eggs. The finding prompted significant regulation changes for egg producers and significantly reduced the number of Salmonella-related illnesses.
The CDC also reports that Salmonella infection causes more hospitalizations and deaths than any other germ found in food. The agency estimates that approximately 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths occur due to non-typhoidal Salmonella and costs $365 million in direct medical costs a year.
This isn’t the company’s first brush with federal regulators. In May 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency announced Mahard Egg Farm Inc. agreed to “pay a $1.9 million penalty to resolve claims that the company violated the Clean Water Act at its egg production facilities in Texas and Oklahoma.” The company also agreed to spend $3.5 million to bring the facilities into compliance with the Clean Water Act.
Mahard Egg Farm must “promptly correct these violations” or expect the FDA to take further regulatory action including seizure, injunction or beginning administrative enforcement procedures.
Food and Drug Administration
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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