Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let's Make a Deal: Is Our Food Supply Worth Only $300?

I know this isn't earth-shattering, but I am absolutely convinced that money is the cause of our food supply's ills. But $300 to bribe a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector? Considering that 500 million eggs were about to be recalled, don't you think the proposed pay-off should have included a couple more zeroes?

Here's the whole story from today's Food Safety News, which should make us all wonder what else is going on with our food. For me, it confirms that the eggs I buy at the farmers' market for $6 per dozen are a great bargain.

Employee of Egg Farm Linked to 2010 Salmonella
Outbreak Tried to Bribe USDA Inspector

Former manager to plead guilty in Northern Iowa District Court

by Gretchen Goetz | Sep 12, 2012

"A former manager at the Iowa farm responsible for the largest egg recall in history and the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 2,000 people will plead guilty to conspiring to bribe a federal inspector to overlook health violations at the facility.

"Tony Wasmund, former employee of Wright County Egg -- one of the two operations owned by Austin 'Jack' DeCoster that were jointly linked to the 2010 outbreak -- was accused of authorizing another worker to give $300 to an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Northern Iowa.

"The funds were intended to convince the USDA official to allow the sale of eggs that had been held after failing to meet agency standards, according to the complaint.

"Wasmund allegedly authorized the release of these funds August 12, 2010, the day before the first of three egg recalls for potential Salmonella contamination was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Five days later, on August 18, the Wright County recall was expanded to include a total of 380,000 shelled eggs. On August 20, DeCoster's Hillandale Farms recalled around 170,000 of its eggs, bringing the total number of recalled eggs to 550 million.

"In addition to trying to distribute sub-standard eggs for sale to consumers, Wasmund was accused of attempting to label the facility's eggs with a higher grade level than the one awarded to them by USDA. Wasmund allegedly pushed for 'the inclusion of labeling falsely indicating the eggs met a quality grade standard under rules promulgated by the USDA,' and 'the omission of labeling to indicate the eggs...could not be lawfully sold.'

"Wasmund agreed to plead guilty at a hearing Wednesday morning.

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