Guilty Pleas Expected in Tainted Egg Outbreak
Federal prosecutors have reportedly filed criminal charges against Iowa-based Quality Egg LLC and two former company executives—Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter—over a 2010 Salmonella outbreak that sickened thousands across the country and resulted in the recall of some 550 million eggs. United States v. Quality Egg, LLC, No. 14-cr-3024 (N.D. Iowa, filed May 21, 2014). The charging document, which brings two felony counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce against the company and related misdemeanor charges against the DeCosters, alleges that the company sold tainted eggs from early 2010 until the August recall. According to news sources, the DeCosters are expected to enter guilty pleas on June 3, 2014, as part of a plea agreement that ends the four-year investigation.
The charging document alleges that the company sold products with labels making “the eggs appear to be not as old as they actually were” from 2006 to 2010, and paid bribes to influence a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector at least twice to approve eggs that had failed to meet federal standards. The company is also reportedly expected to plead guilty. The misdemeanor counts could bring a maximum one-year term of imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, while the bribery count would trigger forfeiture of property derived from the proceeds of the violation. See Reuters and U.S. News & World Report, May 21, 2014.