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Egg sellers get jail time for salmonella outbreak


Two former egg company executives have been sentenced to three months in jail, and the company fined $8.8 million, in connection with a 2010 salmonella outbreak that lead to the recall of millions of eggs.

Austin DeCoster, who owned Turner, Maine-based The Quality Egg of New England L.L.C., and his son, Peter DeCoster, who was the company’s chief operating officer, will also serve one year of supervised release after their sentence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sioux City, Iowa, in a statement issued Monday.

The two men and the company also were ordered to make restitution totaling $83,000, according to the statement.

Quality Egg, which has operations in Galt, Iowa, pleaded guilty in June 2014 to one count of bribery of a public official in connection with the bribe of a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector, one count of introducing a misbranded food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud, and one count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, according to the statement.

In addition, the DeCosters each pleaded guilty to one count of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.

In plea agreements, both men admitted the company’s eggs were adulterated with salmonella.

The U.S. attorney’s’ office said adulterated eggs produced and distributed by Quality Egg were linked to about 1,939 illnesses in multiple states during the spring and summer of 2010, which lead to the August 2010 recall of millions of eggs produced by the defendants.

The government charged that the company had disregarded food safety standard and practice and misled major customers for years about the company’s foods safety practices.

“The message this prosecution and sentence sends is a stern one to anyone tempted to place profits over people's welfare,” Kevin W. Techau, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, said in a statement. “Corporate officials are on notice. If you sell contaminated food, you will be held responsible for your conduct. Claims of ignorance or ‘I delegated the responsibility to someone else’ will not shield them from criminal responsibility.”

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