Repeat Offender Egg Seller Gets Jail Time for Filthy Practices

By Jonathan R. Tung, Esq. on July 13, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Jack DeCoster and his son Peter will serve three months in jail and be fined $100,000 each for having violated food safety regulations.

Among the facts that have horrified interested parties include a salmonella contamination reading of 3,900 percent higher than the national average, as well as dead rodents decaying in the laying area. Hungry, anyone?

Mouth Watering Facts

Jack and Peter DeCoster owned and operated an egg producer in Iowa state, ironically named Quality Egg. The operation included six farms, 73 barns, and five million egg-laying hens. The pair also owned 24 other barns filled with immature hens not yet of egg laying age.

Quality Egg or its facilities would occasionally test positive for salmonella over the years with increasing frequency leading up to 2010. But when the state adopted stricter laws regulating the proper production of eggs, an FDA inspection in late 2010 revealed a jungle of filth and unwelcome vermin within the company's facilities: frogs in the laying areas, dead rodents, live rodents -- many of which in the feed areas and along the conveyor belts. It was at this time when tests confirmed that eggs that originated from DeCosters' facilities were 39 times higher than the national average rate of salmonella.

In 2010, a salmonella outbreak that affected 56,000 Americans was traced back to the DeCoster's facilities. Amongst the victims was a small child who'd been hospitalized in an ICU, but who was saved by antibiotics that damaged his teeth permanently.

Criminal Charges

In addition to orders by the FDA to euthanize all birds, the DeCosters were hit with criminal charges after it was found that the company falsified company records, bribed government officials, and lied to auditors about pest control and sanitation expenses. The authoring judge described the father and son's behavior as "egregious," and wrote that their three-month sentence was not grossly disproportionate to the gravity of their offenses.

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