US was in midst of BP oil crisis and we have several lawsuits filed against BP. This time it is turn of egg firms, which are under heavy scrutiny and now being sued. The news comes as no surprise to me that Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms, which are responsible for more than half-billion-egg recall and Salmonella outbreak, are facing new lawsuits.
Owner of Wright County Eggs, the DeCoster family, has had bad history of violations in the past and had been subjected to penalties. One of the first lawsuits began 10 days ago is under progress. Another law suit will be filed by food safety lawyer Bill Marler, Iowa, on behalf of Jacqueline Shea Holt of Newbury Park, Calif. She ate sunny-side-up eggs on July 1 and scrambled eggs July 2, both made by her mom, Jennifer Holt, which came from Wright County Egg.
Jacqueline is only 11 years old, suffered from salmonellosis owing to Salmonella enteritidis contamination from eggs and spent four days in the hospital.
Marler also filed suit Thursday on behalf of a Wisconsin woman who was treated at a hospital, and says his Seattle firm represents 35 people who were sickened.
Why are companies liable for lawsuits?
One obvious way of thinking about it is, egg producing firm have to take responsibility for the Salmonella outbreak. Experts said that
- salmonella outbreak indicates how the industry has grown from many small producers to large industrial farms.
- eggs moved to a very intense production method with enormous companies and huge flocks
Can government be blamed for the Salmonella outbreak?
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- Experts have said that regulations regarding this issue are entirely lacking. Some more comments regarding government negligence include:
- Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said Pennsylvania did a pilot study and found that if the proper steps were taken — the same steps in a set of Food and Drug Administration rules that took effect July 9 — “you could greatly reduce the level of Salmonella enteritidis in the flock and in the eggs.
- President Clinton proposed in 1999 to increase regulation and wipe out the diseases in eggs by 2010. But FDA was dragging its feet and rules were written in 2004.
- Prior to that, companies were not required to test for Salmonella enteritidis. The new rule requires testing of layer houses, which can trigger mandatory egg testing. Infected eggs must be diverted to pathogen-killing treatments such as pasteurization.
It looks like that both government and the company are responsible for the Salmonella outbreak. I would agree that if you look at the company, they should give safety of consumers their highest priority and implement necessary controls to have check on such massive outbreak.