Take a bow, Austin “Jack” DeCoster! The Galtian Genius responsible for the recent recall of half a billion salmonella-tainted eggs may have been responsible for introducing salmonella to America’s egg supply:
… Mr. DeCoster’s frequent run-ins with regulators over labor, environmental and immigration violations have been well cataloged. But the close connections between Mr. DeCoster’s egg empire and the spread of salmonella in the United States have received far less scrutiny….
Farms tied to Mr. DeCoster were a primary source of Salmonella enteritidis in the United States in the 1980s, when some of the first major outbreaks of human illness from the bacteria in eggs occurred, according to health officials and public records. At one point, New York and Maryland regulators believed DeCoster eggs were such a threat that they banned sales of the eggs in their states.
Records released by Congressional investigators last week suggest that tougher oversight of Mr. DeCoster’s Iowa operations might have prevented the outbreak, which federal officials say is the largest of its type in the nation’s history, with more than 1,600 reported illnesses and probably tens of thousands more that have gone unreported.
Fifty years ago, Salmonella enteritidis (pronounced enter-IT-idis) was a minor cause of illness. But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the number of cases began to grow worldwide. In this country, the Salmonella enteritidis epidemic appeared first in New England, where Mr. DeCoster was the largest egg producer. The first spike of illness there showed up in epidemiological records in 1979. That same year, Mr. DeCoster sold his Maine operation, although it kept the name DeCoster Egg Farms. He provided financing to the new owner, the Acton Corporation, and some of his managers stayed to help run it, according to former employees of the company. Mr. DeCoster began building new egg farms in Maryland.
The first enteritidis outbreak recognized by public health officials came in July 1982, when about three dozen people fell ill and one person died at the Edgewood Manor nursing home in Portsmouth, N.H. Investigators concluded that runny scrambled eggs served at a Saturday breakfast were to blame. They traced the eggs to what the Centers for Disease Control reports referred to as a large producer in Maine; interviews with investigators confirmed that it was Mr. DeCoster’s former operation…
Another triumph for St. Ronnie’s blessed deconstruction of nanny-state frills like ‘food safety’! Most of the people who’ve died from eating tainted eggs over the past 30 years have been old, chronically ill, or too young to work for their own living anyway — mere parasites draining valuable resources from society’s Real Producers, fine Christianist men like Jack DeCoster.
Anne [email protected] top
No rescue kitteh thread today? I has a sad.
The Republic of Stupidity
I had a suspected dose of salmonella earlier this year…
And let me tell you… it was 48 to 72 hrs of stomach-wrenching, bowel-knotting fun!
Sounds like DeCoster is the germ of interest in this story.
Deregulation! It works, bitches!!*
*Editor’s Note: Only if you’re of the sainted class that can pay for all unexpected expenses out of pocket, otherwise you’re worthless, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand said so
anyone know how to follow the thread to see who DeCoster supplies? I look for ‘local’ eggs at the store, but who knows?
But, but, but…Annie Laurie, you are forgetting how the market works. People who are on the toilet for days on end, or hospitalized or dead, are NOT buying eggs from DeCoster. This will lead to more sanitary egg producing facilities in the long term. Why? Because McMegan’s calculator says so, that’s why.
@Kryptik: The sainted class can afford to have their eggs provided by show quality, French Marans hens who live in cute little chicken coops. The more likely outcome is that these Randian superheroes will be dehydrated and glued to the toilet just like everyone else. Bloody stools are a small price to pay for freedom.
how does he manage to rub all those eggs on his taint?
The Republic of Stupidity
I now only buy locally produced, organic, free-range eggs…
And gladly pay the premium…
And I’m not tryin’ ta be all artsy-craftsy…
I’m just scared shitless about what I MIGHT be gittin’ in my food when I buy it from major chains…
(Let’s not even begin on ground beef treated w/ ammonia…)
This is really striking. I remember eggs being considered safe food back in the 70s, with Rocky eating them raw, and so on. And then one day it became common knowledge that eggs were unsafe, and they all carried illness.
I wonder how many people have died from the epidemic of DeCoster?
The caption to this post just screams out for a DougJ style reference to lyrics from a Beatles song.
Do not despair! The hidden hand of the free market will wipe while you’re dying of food poisoning.
we would also accept Beastie Boys:
Which came first the chicken or the egg
I egged the chicken then I ate his leg
@The Republic of Stupidity: I buy local eggs, too. And I recently placed an order for a year’s worth of grass-fed beef–along with some chickens–from a local ranch. I know it sounds all artsy-craftsy, but I do not trust the stuff in the meat case at the local grocer’s. I feel very lucky that I am able to find and afford alternative food sources.
The Republic of Stupidity
Like I said above… I, too, am scared shitless of what MIGHT be in the food I buy from a big chain these days…
Along w/ the eggs, I only buy local, grass-fed, organic beef now too… also…
And I avoid fast food joints Like. the. Plague.
You have to
kill a few consumersbreak some eggs to keep markets freemake an omelet.
So in a libertarian paradise where everyone had access to perfect information, would an angry mob have dealt with this problem? I can never remember how these things are supposed to work…
The Republic of Stupidity
Yes… clearly, it was the chickens’ fault!
I remember back in the 90s when his massive egg farm in Rumford, Maine was raided because of its almost grotesque violations of of labor laws and mistreatment of immigrant laborers. Then Secretary of Labor Robert Reich called them some of the most heinous he’d ever seen.
I also recall an article in a Maine paper at the time quoting DeCoster as saying to an acquaintance “As long as you go to church on Sunday, it doesn’t matter what you do the other 6 days.”
This guy has been a disaster just waiting to happen.
Nah. Perfect libertarian world, the survivors from the mass food poisoning scandal would buy their own farms, raise their own chickens, then try futilely to penetrate the egg market, and either get crushed by the DeCoster machine, or grow into the very thing they fought against, because hey, they need to make a profit!!
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
But you see, if it were up to the free market, then people would be able to choose between the expensive salmonella free eggs or the cheaper eggs that come with a special prize. And farmers that kept their eggs free would earn the profits from their extra work. A few extra unwanted bowel movements a year is a small price to pay for that kind of choice, don’t you think?
And don’t you believe in evolution, people?! Shouldn’t we be killing off those who are truly susceptible, leaving only those who have a natural immunity, or those who can pay someone else to get sick for them?
I’m trying to sound more ridiculous than the glibertarians, but it isn’t working.
@Belafon (formerly anonevent):
I’d wonder out loud how Colbert and the Onion manage to do it but then I remember that we get crazies who echo both satirical outlets in all earnestness. And then I wish I could smuggle a bottle of vodka into work with me to deal with the crushing depression.
@Redshift: I think all the kings horses are sent to deal with the medical treatment. Or maybe they’re the PR team.
I woke up this morning to Audie Cornish on NPR telling me that Sen Coborn of Oklahoma has blocked the egg safety bill because it will “add to the deficit.”
He and his buddies want to blow up a nuclear deficit bomb via tax cuts for millionaires, but he’ll let his own grandmother die of salmonella because, boo hoos, the deficit.
even better, the cost of the bill is cheaper than … 2 days in Afghanistan.
That’s just DeCoster doin’ business…
WTF?? I read this story in the NY Times this a.m., as my blood pressure approached new heights. How is it that this monster has been allowed to continue to sell tainted food to the public? Why is he not on trial or in jail?? Oh, because the GOP has convinced us all that we need to leave the “businessmen” to run our economy…into the ground. I do hope this has gotten the attention of someone in a position to prosecute this man, and obtain some measure of justice. Not holding my breath, mind you…and where is the new Upton Sinclair? It’s time to update “The Jungle”…
@cleek: yeah, but you see when the terrorists kill us off, nobody makes a profit — I think that’s the root of what makes them bad guys. See the horror of the govt run death panels rather than the happy medical utopia of HMO-led ones.
I fucking LOVE samonella! A nice pan-seared sockeye covered in a layer of chocolate Nutella…..
So, anti-regulatory zeal has brought us salmonella in our eggs, the collapse of the financial system, subprime mortgages, and abusive practices by credit card and health insurance companies. Explain to me again why the tea party Republicans and their billionaire sugar daddies want even more deregulation.
@Xenocrates: A new Upton Sinclair would be ignored by everyone but the DFH’s. People love to get riled up about food safety, but not to the point where they become loud enough to drown out the accusations that regulating the food industry is bad for economic growth and productivity and helps the terrorists win.
I’m not seeing a lot of passion on the part of the public. As long as they have TV, they are more than happy to let the corporations steal their money and poison their food and water.
peach flavored shampoo
@cleek: Honestly, is there a thread anywhere that isn’t improved by a Beasties linkage?
@cleek: Cibo Matto’s Know Your Chicken
To quoth one of our greatest minds:
Carlin said this as a joke, but we live in an age where jokes are less absurd than reality.
joe from Lowell
Looked out the window and seen his bald head
Ran to the fridge and pulled out an egg…
@Moses2317: Because those billionaire sugar daddies are the ones who directly benefit from that deregulation/lack of regulation, and the tea partiers are too stupid and/or brainwashed to see that, or to even question anything those sugar daddies tell them.
But then, you already knew that.
Oh, I gleefully clicked on the Rob Portman for Senate ad that appeared on the Juice a minute ago, courtesy of GoogleAds. Hope the .001 cents I earned ya helps.
In the run-up to ’08, GoogleAds was placing McCain ads on 538 all the time for me, so I’d dutifully click every chance I got, so that that old bastard would have to pay monies to Nate.
This is where the WMD’s were all this time….
throw this guy in Gitmo for bio terrorism…
Nah, they realize it. They just also delude themselves that that’s the way it should be, and they’ll get there by working hard enough, like Horatio Alger sez.
make that 7 days.
Now, this is just the kind of burdensome over-regulation that Grover Norquist, Pat Toomey and the rest of the Club for Growths pillowbiters are talking about.
Salmonella for everyone !!!
I don’t think he’s such a bad man that he’d let his own grandmother die from bad eggs.
Don’t forget that these safety regs aren’t there to help people like Coborn who are able to obtain organic free-range eggs that have been hand polished by buddhist monks.
Yeah, well the Egg Emperor and his son are set to appear before a House panel in Washington today re the recent salmonella outbreak from his plants – and their “prepared testimony” – released to the press beforehand – should give a good idea of how they are going to deal with this:
First, a ritual expression of regret:
Next, a little blame-shifting:
A quick shift back to piety-sodden sympathy:
More non-apology apology, with a deflecting dig at “government regulation”:
Closing with unspecific “promises to do better in the future”:
How much would we be willing to bet that the most expensive of those “sweeping changes” will be for increased PR and enlarged contributions to his local Republicans’ campaign coffers?
comrade scott's agenda of rage
We’ve been saying this since St Ronald was elected president: the GOP wants to take this country back to 1900.
They’ve spent the last 30 years doing just that and in a large part, have succeeded. If nothing else, they’ve changed the narrative so that shit like the egg thing can happen and people simply end up saying “see, the gubmint can’t manage shit” not realizing that the GOP has setup the gubmint to fail every time they’ve had the presidency.
Everybody should take the late Steve Gilliard’s quote to heart:
“I’m not writing to make conservatives happy. I want them to hate my opinions. I’m not interested in debating them. I want to stop them.”
Focus on the “stop them” part. Alas, our elected Dems still don’t seem to get that.
reminds me of Title Of The Song
When I was a young Bongster in rural Maine waaaaay back in the 19(REDACTED)s, I had the pleasure one summer of working for the DeCoster Egg Farms, as it was known then.
My friends and I all worked the night shift, and our job was to vaccinate the chickens; those poor birds were cramped three to a cage; there were three tiers and, if I remember correctly, 500 cages per row. I don’t know how many rows there were in each barn. Those poor birds spent their entire lives like that.
We wore heavy gloves, and we had to reach into each cage, grab a chicken, and place a drop of vaccine from a squirt bottle in each chicken’s eye. We wore the gloves so we wouldn’t get scratched.
The barn was one of the foulest-smelling places you could imagine. Underneath each row of cages was a pit for chicken feces.
One night, I had the misfortune to drop my bottle of vaccine. Of course it bounced into the waste pit below.
“That stuff costs $35 a bottle,” I was told, a not insubstantial sum for the mid-19mumblemumbles.
I was given one of two choices: either retrieve the bottle, or get my stuff and punch out for good. Not wanting to be broke all summer while my friends had money, I opted to get the bottle.
Two of my friends held my legs while I dangled, head-first, mere inches above the waste pit, shining a flashlight on mountains of chicken manure searching for this small blue bottle that was maybe as big as half my thumb.
I found the bottle, but got physically sick from the overpowering ammonia smell of the pit. Of course, I was given a second choice: finish the shift, or get my stuff and punch out for good.
I punched out for good.
There are a lot of people up here who think Jack DeCoster is a creep, and I can’t say I blame them one bit.
Note to d0n at 19: I had the misfortune to be born in Rumford. The DeCoster farms weren’t actually in Rumford, but about 20 miles away in Turner. Rumford is bad enough without being tainted by the DeCoster name.
@BongCrosby: My apologies, Bong. Now that you mention it, I do remember it was Turner. The reason I was thinking it was Rumford is because, as I recall, a writer for an independent paper based in Rumford broke the story since no daily paper in Maine would touch DeCoster for fear of losing advertising money.
That fucker is an industrial Typhoid Mary.
But really you know what the Freemarketeers will say, that the market sorts this out because people will stop buying his eggs.
Too bad they can’t tell who is supplied by that dirtbag’s operation. Or which omelet contains one of those eggs.
But hey, it’s not the responsibility of business to determine the existence of pathogens that may kill its customers. It’s the personal responsibility of each consumer to figure out which seller is supplied by which supplier, which foods has hazardous levels of bacteria in it, what the hazardous level of a particular bacteria in a given foodstuff is, and, naturally, which omelet contains a tainted egg.
Fucking glibs. They always assume perfect knowledge about something ordinary people cannot possibly have any way of knowing, nor the expertise to understand what that information means even if they could know it.
@BongCrosby: I worked in Maine back in the ’70s, long before you were even born, of course. Austin’s operational cruelty to man and bird were legendary even then, despite his protestations that he was a very, very, very, very devout Christian. He made such an impression on me that I think of him every time I see that chicken farm lunch scene in Napoleon Dynamite.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
Why am I not surprised this happened in 2007 and was the first commercial botulism outbreak in 36 years? (Oh hell, why am I not surprised the earlier outbreak also occurred under a republican president?)
Clearly these people should have known better. Despite their irresponsibility, they can console themselves knowing the market has duly punished the corporation responsible for this.
Fixt. Sorry, in glibtard world this is so basic an assumption it missed getting said when in snarking in glibtard mode.
edit: fuck I forgot how to make the damn blockquote non-bold.
Actually, that’s not long before I was born — since you’re copping to being a child of the 70’s, I’ll un-redact my redact and confess to the same: I worked for Saint Jack in the summer of 1976.
If you know western Maine at all, you know that jobs are/were scarce in that neck of the Maine woods — after I flunked out of college that fall, I swallered my pride and went back to the Farms, where I made boxes.
Eight hours a day, five days a week, unfolding cardboard boxes into their “box” shape. $2.10 per hour; after taxes and ponying up gas money, I cleared about $60 a week.
I did that for two weeks, and then joined the Navy. :-)
@BongCrosby: From what I understand, conditions were so horrible at DeCoster Farms that even rural Mainers who could withstand a lot couldn’t stomach it and DeCoster brought in immigrant workers whom he housed in company trailers. From what I understand, the conditions in those trailers weren’t that much better than for the chickens which is what brought the Department of Labor down on them. Of course, having someone like Robert Reich as Secretary of Labor instead of a corporate lacky really helped.
I’m not trying to defend St. Ronnie of Perpetual Deregulation, but… allow me to quote something here —
Runny scrambled eggs. Runny fucking scrambled eggs were served to the elderly in a nursing home. Runny. I just need to throw this out there — if the eggs had been cooked properly then probably no one at that nursing home would have gotten sick. There’s a reason why we cook food — to kill germs.
Eggs which are still runny have not been cooked to high enough temperature to kill off potential pathogens.
Look, those people made a lifestyle choice by being conically ill, young or old and feeble. They’ve should have none better than to eat food /wingnut
More sanely, this one degenerate is responsible for all the salmonella in this country in the last 30 years? And no one has thought to do anything about this mass murderer?
DeCoster and a few of his coevals should just pay the FDA to announce that salmonella is a vitamin.
Yes, yes and yes.
While it might be unfair to hold something against DeCoster that happened 35 years ago; maybe it’s not so unfair when this stuff happens repeatedly.
It’s like he’s using his Christianity as a “I’m really just a misunderstood guy” get-out-of-jail-free card.
What does a guy have to do to be called a supervillain these days?
@BongCrosby: Bong, the DOL raids were in the 90s. I’m sure DeCoster was up to some nasty shit 35 years ago too, but he got fined $2 million less than 20 years ago and the only lesson he learned was to move to a place that had even less regulatory oversight than Maine. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there have been a bunch of minor outbreaks of disease that can be linked back to DeCoster before the ultimate disaster as far as he was concerned — a massive nationwide salmonella outbreak that couldn’t be covered up and that happened under a Democratic president.
geez, from the title, i thought this thread was about drudge.
True, but eating runny eggs didn’t used to be the moral equivalent of russian roulette. You actually should be able to eat eggs raw – they’re part of the traditional ceasar salad dressing recipe, for example.
Am I going to be the first feller to make a Doctor Robotnik reference? I am.
I’m reading this story and the comments and thinking about Massey Energy. You know, the company that got 29 miners killed in West Virginia. They turned out to be running a very dangerous operation and at every step of the way from the moment of that disaster, they’ve been doing their damndest to shove off the blame on big, bad gummint and pulling the ‘hoocoodanode’ act. In fact it recently came out that immediately after the explosion, Massey Energy officials may have tampered with evidence related to the explosion:
Very recently, Massey lost a court case where they demanded to provide their own evidence in the investigation.
This is what voters are voting for if they vote GOP this fall: more of the same of the Bush/Cheney era, where Big Business was permitted to fuck all of us in the ass repeatedly as a matter of official government policy.