Salmonella Villain Jack DeCoster Sells Egg Farms, Leaves Egg Industry

Buh-Bye, DeCoster.
Buh-Bye, DeCoster. Photo: Amber Waterman/AP

Remember this guy? Austin "Jack" DeCoster, who owned the Iowa egg farms at the center of last year’s huge Salmonella outbreak? Well, it turned out his aversion to proper pathogen testing and general greediness had led to several deadly Salmonella outbreaks between 1979 and 2010. And all the bad press, the dropping of a contract with Wal-Mart, and the subsequent lawsuits from the most recent and largest outbreak have forced Mr. DeCoster out of the egg industry altogether. As the AP and multiple sources report today, DeCoster and his son Peter have sold off or given up control of their egg farms in Iowa, Maine, and Ohio, and meanwhile they’ve reached financial settlements with about 40 people who were sickened during the outbreak, with about 100 more settlements pending.

Buh-Bye, DeCoster.
Buh-Bye, DeCoster. Photo: Amber Waterman/AP

In a statement today the DeCosters write, "While we are committed to working to address outstanding issues related to the outbreak, it is important to note we no longer operate any of the farms involved and are no longer in the business of egg production." A relieved Iowa governor, Terry Brandstad, said today, "The DeCosters should have been out of business a long time ago." From all that we already knew about him, we know the old man didn’t do this willingly.

Jack DeCoster, 77, hadn’t only run afowl (sorry) of the FDA, but he was cited multiple times for immigration, safety, environmental, and labor violations, and convicted in 2003 for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. The company that’s leasing his six Iowa farms, Centrum Valley Farms, has gone to great lengths now to clean and retest the facilities, and still has more work to do on two of them before the FDA will give the green light.

With today’s news, the cheap-egg industry would like everyone to believe that their eggs are safer now. At least until the next outbreak. The solution, as Michael Pollan will tell you, is always to buy the farmers’ market variety, and pay $8 for them.

After Outbreak, Egg Mogul Is Leaving the Industry [AP]
Salmonella Outbreak Prompts Egg Mogul to Leave Company [HuffPo]
PREVIOUSLY: Meet the Salmonella Villain
Easy Solution to the Egg Recall: Don’t Buy Cheap Eggs