Posted by Dave on August 25, 2010
It has been a scary week for the American breakfast table.
More than a half billion eggs have been pulled from grocery stores, and more than 1,300 people have been stricken with salmonella. While the problem has been traced to a particularly bad actor, Jack DeCoster and his companies, in reality the recall is a symptom of much larger problems with our food system. Small farms have been replaced by massive "animal factories" that would make you sick to look at, with animals living in brutally overcrowded conditions that provide perfect breeding-grounds for disease.
It's time to fight back.
We rely on reputable grocers like Trader Joe's, Albertsons, Costco, Ralph's or Wal-Mart to sell us food we can safely eat. Clearly, eggs from companies connected to Jack DeCoster can't be trusted. Join us in calling on these and other stores to stop dealing with DeCoster and other unscrupulous producers like him; and to do an inventory of their suppliers to root out and drop suppliers like Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.
Tell your grocer to protect your and your family’s health by cutting their ties with food factories that put us in danger. Clicking below will sign your name to our letter to their corporate offices demanding that they no longer purchase eggs from any facility connected to Jack DeCoster.
While this egg recall can be blamed on one man’s blatant disregard for state and federal laws, the outbreak is a symptom of a larger problem in agriculture today. The belief that economies of scale and false efficiencies can make up for high quality production practices and independent family farm management has put Americans and the safety of our food system at risk.
This current food safety outbreak, with more than half a billion eggs recalled, is hard to imagine taking place in a local and regionalized food system. But with consolidated production, food safety outbreaks like this have become common, endangering you and your children at every turn. In the past it was spinach, then peanut butter, now eggs. What's next?
While Congress can pass bills to increase inspections or oversight by the FDA or USDA, it's clear these dangerous outbreaks will keep popping up until we end the consolidation of power, production and processing facilities that allow these incidents to occur.
A first step to ending the concentration of corporate power in our food system is making sure "habitual violators" like Jack DeCoster are no longer allowed to produce food for you our your family.
Join Food Democracy Now! in putting a "bad egg" out of business and striking a blow against a corrupt and dangerously overconsolidated food system.
Tell your grocer to protect your and your family’s health. Clicking below will sign your name to our letter to their corporate offices demanding that they no longer purchase eggs from any facility connected to Jack DeCoster, encouraging them to source products from safe and reputable facilities.
Thank you for participating in food democracy.
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
We need your help to keep the pressure on! Please donate to Food Democracy Now today – whether it’s $10, $25 or $50 we make sure your donation makes a big difference. https://fdn.actionkit.com/cms/donate/donate/
We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.
Already more than 1,000 Americans are sick from Salmonella poisoning as a result of the past week’s gigantic egg recall – which now includes an unimaginable 550 million eggs!1
Amazingly, the tainted eggs can be traced back to one man — Austin “Jack” DeCoster. How our country responds to him will say a lot about whether we are ready to change how food gets on our tables.
The vast majority of the recalled eggs come from one company — Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa — which is owned by DeCoster and has a long history of violations.2 The other facility involved is Hillandale Farms, which is also located in Iowa, who has deep connections to DeCoster, including receiving chickens and feed and renting facilities from DeCoster-owned companies.3
Right now, massive efforts are underway to remove these eggs from the shelves — but we can’t stop there.
It’s time that grocery stores like Safeway, Costco, Ralph's, Trader Joe's, Wal-Mart, Albertson's and others stop doing business with any company connected to Jack DeCoster — permanently. These stores need to show us that we can trust the products they put on their shelves.
Tell your grocer to protect your and your family’s health. Clicking below will sign your name to our letter to their corporate offices demanding that they no longer purchase eggs from any facility connected to Jack DeCoster.
If there were a poster boy for the ills of factory farming, Jack DeCoster would be it. DeCoster has a lifetime of flagrant violations against state and federal laws, including labor, human rights, environmental and animal cruelty violations.4 Things got so bad that in the year 2001, the Iowa Supreme Court declared him a “habitual violator” and barred him from building hog confinements in the state.5 But that hasn’t stopped him from expanding into chicken farming, where he has continued to shirk regulations. In 2006, DeCoster put up more than $126 million to fund Hillandale founder Orland Bethel’s construction of Ohio Fresh Eggs. In this case, when Ohio officials found out about DeCoster’s involvement, which was intentionally hidden, they pulled the company’s state permits.6
Of course, getting Decoster’s eggs off the market is not nearly enough. In our effort to root out the bad eggs in the system, we’ll have to challenge both the producer responsible for this outrage and the broken food system that put us in this dangerous position. Jack DeCoster can only put so many Americans in danger because of lax regulation and massive consolidation, which puts food production in fewer and fewer hands.
But those kind of systemic changes take time, and we can’t stand silent while our food system is contaminated by repeat offenders. That’s why it’s time for the grocery stores where we spend our hard earned dollars to step up. According to food safety experts, for every 1 person who reports a food safety illness, at least 38.5 will never report it.7 That means more than 50,000 people could eventually come down with salmonella poisoning as a result of this single egg recall.
Stores like Albertson's, Safeway, Costco, Ralph's, Trader Joe's, Wal-Mart and others can help make sure this never happens again. Please click below to make sure these stories they know exactly who Jack DeCoster is, and to demand that his eggs never again show up on their shelves.
After you’ve taken action, ensure that your friends and family get the facts and aren’t exposed to these eggs. Just forward this email and the link below, and they can check to be sure their families are safe.
Click here to access the Egg Safety Center’s list of affected cities and egg brands.
Thanks so much for standing with us as we fight for a safer and healthier food system,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
1. “Jack DeCoster, Hillandale Farms: Culprits in Massive Egg Recall?”, ABC News, August, 20, 2010
2. “Before salmonella outbreak, egg firm had long record of violations”, The Washington Post, August 22, 2010
3. “Second Iowa producer involved in egg recall”, Des Moines Register, August 21, 2010
4. “A ‘habitual offender’ unleashes nearly half a billion salmonella-tainted eggs”, Grist, August, 19, 2010
5. “Wright County Egg owner, DeCoster, seems to be one bad Egg”, MarlerBlog, August 21, 2010
6. “State revokes egg farm permits” Farm and Dairy, December 7, 2006
7. “Second Salmonella Lawsuit Filed Against Taco Bell”, Food Safety News, August 18, 2010