We are suing Jack DeCoster’s company, Wright County Egg, in multiple lawsuits in Federal Court in Iowa. We represent between 30 and 40 other families whose members may have been infected in the outbreak. We have also been granted access to personally inspect Wright County Egg’s facilities after the Committee on Energy and Commerce hearings on Wednesday.
Here are a few questions, focused around May 2010–notably, the beginning of the outbreak, according to the CDC–that I hope Bart Stupak, Henry Waxman, or any other member of the Energy and Commerce Committee will ask at Wednesday’s hearing:
1. What testing protocols were in place in 2010 for environmental, flock, and finished product testing for Salmonella enteritidis and other foodborne pathogens? At what point, if at all, were the testing protocols specified in the FDA’s egg rule (took effect in July 2010) implemented at WCE? Are they being followed now?
2. Who did the testing (what WCE officials, and what laboratory), and how were the results of those tests analyzed and studied for purposes of (a) initiating recalls on potentially affected product and (b) instituting or amending existing food safety measures intended to control or detect salmonella bacteria at WCE facilities?
3. What events occurred (including an analysis of production records and, importantly, log books that recorded daily events or happenings) at WCE facilities in the month of May 2010 that could possibly have led to the generation of 66 salmonella positive test results on May 27, 2010?
4. If not on May 27, 2010, when were the swabs or samples taken that were responsible for the 66 positive salmonella findings on May 27, 2010?
5. How are salmonella positive test results reported and studied at WCE generally?
6. How were the 66 positive salmonella test results reported and studied by WCE officials, and what actions were taken in response to the generation of those 66 positive results?
7. Were the 66 positive test results generated on May 27, 2010 reported to the FDA or USDA, or any other public health body or customer of WCE? Or did business just continue as usual?
8. Assuming that the 66 positive salmonella test results on May 27, 2010 were significantly above the baseline rate of the incidence of Salmonella at WCE, what steps were taken to determine whether product in the marketplace, or headed for the consumer marketplace, were seized, recalled, withdrawn or otherwise prevented from actually reaching the marketplace?
9. Since Wright County Egg, and all of its related corporations and operations in multiple states, is such a major producer of eggs sold nationally, surely it periodically employed safety consultants to review WCE food safety practices. Who were they, when did they consult, and what did they say about WCE’s practices? Also, where are the reports that they surely generated after their inspections?
10. Who are the most knowledgeable officials at WCE (i.e. the other people we need to hear from) about facility operations, testing protocols, and quality control generally?