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Egg Company Executives to Serve Prison Time for Salmonella Outbreak

Posted on in Food Poisoning

Maintaining food safety can be challenging, of course. It requires constant attention to detail, meticulously following proper procedures, and, sometimes, being willing to take losses when products may be compromised. Unfortunately, many food producers are too focused on the their bottom line, instead risking consumer safety and food poisoning outbreaks to save a few dollars in preventive losses. A federal court in Iowa, however, sent a strong message this week, by sentencing a former egg magnate and his son to three months in prison for their role in a salmonella outbreak in 2010.

The owner of Quality Egg LLC, and his son pleaded guilty to selling contaminated food against state lines in U.S. District Court. The personal penalties to each, which included a three-month prison sentence and $100,000 fine, were in addition to the $6.8 million fine and three-year probation levied against Quality Egg as a company. The punitive actions were handed down in response to the company's admission that eggs were shipped with falsified processing and expiration dates and at least two instances of bribing an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve low-quality eggs.

In 2010, operating as Wright County Egg Company, the company recalled more than 500 million eggs as salmonella outbreaks were being traced back to the production facility. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention definitively linked more than 1,900 illnesses to the contaminated eggs, and estimate that as many as 56,000 people may have been affected.

Sentences handed down this week seem to be part of a growing trend to hold food producers more directly responsible for the safety of their products. Just in the last year and a half, food producers in at least two other food poisoning outbreaks cases have been convicted, including Colorado cantaloupe farmers found responsible for a fatal 2011 listeria outbreak and the owner of peanut company connected to another salmonella case from 2008. Bill Marler, attorney for more than 100 individuals sickened in the Quality Egg case, sees the impact that high-profile prosecution is having, as food producers and distributors with whom he has spoken are beginning to approach their responsibilities a little differently.

Too often, food poisoning outbreaks occur due to the negligence of food producers and poor quality control at distribution centers. If you or someone you love has been sickened by salmonella, listeria, or any other foodborne illness, you need the help of qualified lawyer who understands how to fight for you. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Arlington Heights today to schedule a free phone consultation.

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