Quote:IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- A ruthless businessman who built one of the nation's largest egg production operations from scratch even as he racked up environmental and labor violations is getting out of the business in disgrace after one scandal was too much to overcome: a nationwide salmonella outbreak caused by his products.
Austin "Jack" DeCoster and his son, Peter, said in a statement they have given up control of egg operations in Iowa, Maine and Ohio, including the farms that produced salmonella-tainted eggs that sickened an estimated 1,900 people and led to a recall of 550 million eggs. Federal inspectors later discovered filthy conditions at the farms, including dead rodents and towers of manure.
This can only be a good thing. It's sad things are apparently so unregulated though.The business survived raids that led to the arrests of dozens of workers, DeCoster's 2003 conviction for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and fines totaling millions of dollars for everything from animal cruelty to workplace discrimination. A member of former President Bill Clinton's cabinet once compared one of DeCoster's farms' working conditions to a sweatshop, and Iowa labeled DeCoster the one and only "habitual violator" of its environmental laws as part of its unsuccessful effort to stop his company's expansion.
After the salmonella outbreak, federal agents descended on DeCoster farms in Iowa. No charges have been filed, and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids declined comment Monday on whether a federal investigation continued.