After experiencing the largest salmonella outbreak in U.S. history, the FDA has inspected the two large Iowa farms at the center of the massive egg recall. The results at both Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms showed a breach of standards of hygiene that will likely lead to extra pressure on politicians to strengthen regulations on the country’s largest egg farmers.
Both farms were found to have piles of manure underneath the cages for the hens. These piles reached as high as 8 feet. Employees were seen to be crushing flies as they walked around the hen house and both farms had living and dead maggots among the manure.
Pigeons were living in air vents at Wright County Egg, and many wild birds made their way in and out of the chicken houses. Both farms had problems with mice, and both places had chickens that had escaped and ran freely between the manure and cages.
Upon testing the water at the farms, it was discovered that it contained the same salmonella that induced the outbreak.
Over half a billion eggs were included in the recall from both farms, and the numbers of those infected by the salmonella bacteria are expected to increase.
Between the two farms there are 8 million hens that are responsible for the egg production.
Most egg producing farms are enormous. 192 farms are the home to 95 % of the laying hens in the country. Since Iowa has inexpensive feed and relaxed regulations, they are home to many of those egg farms.
Despite the fact that Wright County has violated many safety standards and previously paid $10 million for worker and animal safety violations, the farm has not once been inspected by the FDA prior to the recall.
There is currently a bill sitting in Congress that will tighten regulations on the egg farming industry.
Instead of waiting for the federal bill, some states are taking their own measures. Both California and Michigan are attempting to regulate the buying of eggs to be only from cage free birds. Many admit the cost will increase, but tout the safety benefits as worth it.
Both farms have stated that they are working hard to respond to the FDA’s written report on the issues found.