jpgThe company at the center of the salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 1,820 people during the summer and led to the recall of 550 million eggs has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration to begin selling eggs for the table again. On Tuesday the FDA notified Wright County Egg LLC of Galt, Iowa, that it could begin shipping shell eggs from two of its 73 henhouses.

The FDA has conducted multiple on-site inspections, the most recent in October and November. Eggs from the two laying houses now cleared to sell shell eggs have tested negative for salmonella enteritidis, twice by the FDA and once by Wright County Egg. The company has agreed to test the houses every month.

In June 2000, DeCoster became the first person labeled a “habitual violator” of Iowa’s environmental laws, meaning that his business had already been successfully sued at least three times by the Iowa attorney general.

Under Iowa state law, habitual violators can have daily fines quintupled from $5,000 to $25,000 and they are prohibited from expanding their business. Despite this, the Iowa Independent reports, DeCoster has found work-arounds that allow his agro-empire to keep growing.  Fines DeCoster has paid over the years include:

• $1.5 million to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2003 to resolve charges of sexual harassment and rape by company supervisors

• $2.1 million in 2003, accompanying a guilty plea on charges of knowingly hiring illegal immigrants

• $3.5 million in 1996, for mistreatment of workers at egg farms in Maine

• For more horror stories about DeCoster – see New York Times and below:

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