Egg Recall Expands - Inspections Lacking

Moark, a California egg distributor, is recalling about 300,000 eggsit got from an Iowa farm at the center of the salmonella scare. CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano has that latest on the investigation.

As investigators try to pinpoint the exact source of the salmonella that tainted more than half a billion eggs, CBS News has obtained a series of state inspection reports of one of the companies linked to the recall - Wright County Egg.

Each report shows during an April visit, the inspector did not check any of the 27 points on his safety checklist, including whether the facility was "free from presence of birds, insects, rodents," and whether equipment was in "clean and sanitary condition."

Wright County Egg Farm: Who's Watching the Hen House?

The state says the inspector did not do more because the facility had "a full-time USDA inspector on site."

But, the USDA says its official on site was not an inspector at all - and was only there measuring eggs and looking for cracked shells.

Inspections are ultimately the responsibility of another agency: the Food and Drug Administration, which had never inspected the farms.

"When you have multiple agencies in charge of a single issue - sometimes no one is in charge," said Caroline Smith Dewall of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

That may be the case at more than half the nation's food production facilities. Another report found most have gone without an FDA inspection for at least 5 years - despite recent recalls of tainted spinach, tomatoes and peanut butter.

New federal rules should help. They require that egg producers routinely test for salmonella.

"These rules put in place for the very first time very rigorous and specific safety standards," said FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg.

The FDA and critics agree - the next step lies with Congress to pass a food safety bill that's now stalled in the Senate. It would require the FDA to conduct more frequent inspections, and provide the resources to do them.
  • CBSNews

Comments

Follow Us

On Twitter