Meet The Evil Genius Behind The Salmonella Egg Recall
Salmonella Egg Recall Hits 380 Million Eggs – Company Owner Austin “Jack” DeCoster Has Long History Of Bad Business
Wright County Egg of Iowa just expanded its salmonella-related egg recall to 380 million eggs nationwide under a score of brand names and sizes.
All those eggs were produced in just a matter of months in five plants in Iowa.
Ponder that for a moment: 380 million eggs produced in a few months in only five factories.
Disgusting. Federal investigators are looking into the cause of the outbreak, but whatever it is, it will be gross. From David Kirby in The Huffington Post:
The laying hens in question were raised (held prisoner is a more apt term) in Iowa, in a massive concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), better known as a factory farm. In the typical egg-laying CAFO, hens are crammed into battery cages and given room to move in an area that’s roughly equivalent to a piece of typing paper.
Cages are stacked one on top of the other, sometimes 10 or more high, inside large confinements that never see the light of day. Fresh air is pumped into one end, and air fouled with bacteria, viruses, mold, dust, antibiotics, litter and dander spits out the other.
But who is the evil industrial farming genius behind Wright County Egg?
Well, it is really anyone who eats cheap meat or eggs. We create the problem.
But who is the actual villain, the guy who feeds our addiction to 13 cent eggs?
Meet Austin “Jack” DeCoster. This guy has everything you could want as a poster boy for evil food. He is shifty and reclusive. He has a long history from Maine to Iowa. And he’s not just about dirty eggs and torturing chickens. Nope, he’s also about mistreating illegal immigrants and running bad hog farms!
From the New York Times:
In 1997, one of his companies agreed to pay a $2 million fine by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violations in the workplace and worker housing. Officials said workers were forced to handle manure and dead chickens with their bare hands and to live in trailers infested with rats. The labor secretary in the Clinton administration,Robert B. Reich, called Mr. DeCoster’s operation “an agricultural sweatshop.”
DeCoster has also been convicted on immigration charges, animal cruelty charges in Maine, and a court said he was only allowed to finance but not build “hog confinement” facilities for his son.
This is from an op-ed before the salmonella outbreak by Martha Rosenberg, blasting DeCoster for his Maine operations.
Many remember the Turner raid last April when state officials and police troopers with a search warrant, some in HazMat suits, removed dead and living hens for evidence for eight full hours. Egg barns were so noxious with ammonia, four Department of Agriculture workers got sick themselves and were treated by doctors for burned lungs. OSHA launched an investigation — where were they before? — and state veterinarian Don Hoenig called the animal abuse “deplorable, horrifying and upsetting.”
Officials had been tipped off by an undercover video shot by a humane investigator for Mercy For Animals depicting live hens suffocating in garbage cans, twirled by their necks in incomplete euthanasia, kicked into manure pits to drown and hanging by their feet over conveyer belts. Footage even shows the investigator, hired as an employee, pointing out the suffering animals to DeCoster’s son Jay who says to disregard it.
DeCoster once said he had a “master-servant” relationship with his employees, many of whom are illegal immigrants. For a long list of DeCoster’s career of horrors, check out this document from Mercy For Animals – spreading pig manure all over Iowa, forcing workers to salvage eggs from a collapsed building and so on. At one point, the Mexican government joined a suit against DeCoster, the plight of Mexican workers at his plants was so bad.
So if you are prone to dismiss this – to defend factory farming – then don’t go also defending the Arizona immigration laws. Guys like DeCosta need the cheap labor. They don’t want Americans. And Americans don’t want their food prices to go up.
This is a bad guy with a bad company who is now making us sick with salmonella. But he is still in business – and will probably continue to thrive – because of the American consumer’s desire for cheap protein.
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