July 21, 2018

Food Safety; Climate Issues; Disaster Aid; Biofuels; Ag Economy; and USDA Issue

Food Safety

Bloomberg writer Molly Peterson reported yesterday that, “A nationwide recall of more than a half billion eggs linked to a salmonella outbreak prompted investigations by U.S. lawmakers as health officials said at least 40 new illnesses have occurred in the past four days.

Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms of Iowa were asked by lawmakers from the House Energy and Commerce Committee to submit documents dating back more than five years about their safety practices, any alleged violations, and their discovery of the contaminated eggs. Wright County Egg, of Galt, Iowa, has announced recalls of 380 million eggs since Aug. 13. Hillandale, based in New Hampton, Iowa, announced a recall of 170 million eggs on Aug. 19, bringing the total to 550 million.”

The article added that, “Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, also today asked the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture about the egg recall. DeLauro asked the agencies what they knew about reports of past violations by the egg producers before the recall occurred. DeLauro heads the House subcommittee in charge of the budget of the FDA and Agriculture Department.”

Meanwhile, Philip Brasher reported yesterday at the Green Fields Blog (Des Moines Register) that, “Get ready to pay more for eggs as a result of the massive recall linked to Iowa’s DeCoster farms.

“The wholesale price of Grade A eggs has jumped by 38 percent to $1.35 a dozen from Aug. 13, when the recall started, says Richard Brown, who tracks egg prices for Urner Barry Publications.

“‘We know the prices will go up. We don’t know how much,’ Gene Gregory, president and CEO of the United Egg Producers told my colleague Dan Piller at an industry meeting this morning in Des Moines.”

The update indicated that, “Although the eggs that have been recalled amount to a relatively small part of total production, disruptions in supplies can have a big effect on prices, since eggs can’t be frozen or stored for long periods, said David Harvey, an Agriculture Department economist. But he doesn’t think the recall will have a major impact on prices and consumption long term, so long as it outbreak is connected to just one group of farms.”

Yesterday’s Register item added that, “About 550 million eggs have been recalled by Wright County Egg, a division of the DeCoster operation, and a second producer that used DeCoster hens and feed.

“DeCoster was the nation’s sixth largest producer as of 2008, according to Watts Poultry USA.

“The DeCoster operation is taking a financial hit due to the recall, because the eggs can’t be sold on the retail market while the Food and Drug Administration investigates the farms. The eggs are instead being routed for processing and pasteurization, according to the company. The resulting egg product goes into a variety of uses, including cake mixes and food service. Eggs are typically diverted to processing when they’ve got quality problems.”