USDA failure may have helped cause salmonella egg outbreak

Saturday, September 11, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff

In yet another shocking display of incompetence and regulatory failure, the Wall Street Journal has reported that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) knew all along that one of the egg mega-farms involved in the recent recall had sanitation issues, but did not report them to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it should have.

The USDA is responsible for “grading” eggs–which means it simply checks to make sure eggs are the right size and color before being packaged–while the FDA is in charge of actually verifying the safety of eggs. If the USDAobserves any problems or violations during grading, it is supposed to immediately notify the FDA. But according to reports, the USDAsimply looked the other way because “conditions at the egg plant packing facilities were routine.”

This statement alone suggests that, in general, large egg packing plants are filthy, and that such conditions are nothing out of the ordinary. But the fact that the USDA did nothing about the atrocious conditions at Wright County Egg illustrate that the agency has become entirely unfit to hold authority in its current state.

USDA daily inspection reports have since revealed that conditions at the farm were largely “unsatisfactory”, and even “critical” in some cases. Rodent infestations and overflowing trash are among the many problem points notated by the USDA. But despite all this, the agency continued to allow the plant to operate.

Most reports say it is unclear whether or not the USDA’s breach of duty is directly responsible for the salmonella outbreak, but it clearly did not help the situation. It remains to be seen whether or not the agency is held responsible for its actions.

There is also the possibility that injured victims of the outbreak will file a lawsuit against the USDA for its negligence in properly handling the situation.

Sources for this story include:……



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