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Safety concern leads to egg recall

By Mary Clare Jalonick
Associated Press / November 9, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Salmonella has been found at an Ohio egg farm that received financing from the owner of the Iowa egg farm behind a massive recall earlier this year.

Cal-Maine Foods Inc., the nation’s biggest egg seller and distributor, said it is recalling 288,000 eggs the company had purchased from supplier Ohio Fresh Eggs after a test showed salmonella at the Ohio farm.

No illnesses have been reported. According to Cal-Maine Foods, the eggs from Ohio Fresh were distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In a statement from company officials, Ohio Fresh Eggs said the farm had held back eggs from the Croton, Ohio, barn where salmonella was found. However, through discussions with the FDA, the company discovered that some of those eggs were mistakenly sent to a distributor.

“Ohio Fresh Eggs sincerely regrets the error made on our farm, and we apologize to our customer and to consumers who may have purchased the eggs,’’ the officials said. “We are redoubling our efforts to ensure thorough and ongoing training of our workers so that this situation is not repeated.’’

Cal-Maine Foods said the FDA told them about the positive sample.

Earlier this year, salmonella was found on two Iowa egg farms, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms. The two companies recalled 550 million eggs in August when the products were linked to as many as 1,600 illnesses.

Austin “Jack’’ DeCoster owns Wright County Egg and has lent money to Ohio Fresh Eggs.

Ohio officials said DeCoster hid behind other farmers to get permits for the company in 2004. The permits listed two men who had put up just $10,000 apiece while DeCoster had pumped $126 million into the four farms, according to testimony in an administrative proceeding there. At the time, DeCoster had already been labeled a “habitual violator’’ of environmental laws in Iowa.

Ohio officials yanked the permits after learning about that, but an environmental appeals panel overturned that decision.