Timeline of Shame: Decades of DeCoster Egg Factory Violations

Finally, what everyone knows: In August 2010, 550 million eggs linked to two DeCoster-owned facilities in Iowa were recalled. The details released by the FDA were eerily familiar: unsafe electrical conditions, improperly kept manure, infestations of mice and maggots and flies, sick hens. The Iowa barns, largely self-policed, look exactly like the Turner barns before Maine litigation tightened oversight. DeCoster's string of misdoings in other states—environmental violations, stunning management abuses, and dangerous conditions for workers and animals—show that in his 1996 OSHA ruling, the former Labor Secretary Robert Reich was prophetic when he denounced DeCoster as a "habitual violator."

No one I spoke with in Maine expressed surprise that the DeCoster was finally named as the culprit in this year's outbreak. The man who is perhaps the country's largest egg producer has been allowed to menace the country like a robber baron, holding residents in perpetual fear and discomfort while he does exactly as he pleases. "He goes along for a little while, and then he'll slip back into past practices," one resident who did not wish to be named in this article told me. We can only wait to see if now, after a national outrage, there will be a next time and a time after that.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Joe Fassler is a writer based in Brooklyn. His fiction has appeared in The Boston Review, and he regularly interviews authors for The Lit Show. In 2011, his reporting for TheAtlantic.com was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation Award in Journalism.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

Is Technology Making Us Better Storytellers?

The minds behind House of Cards and The Moth weigh in.

Video

A Short Film That Skewers Hollywood

A studio executive concocts an animated blockbuster. Who cares about the story?

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Video

What Is a Sandwich?

We're overthinking sandwiches, so you don't have to.

Video

Let's Talk About Not Smoking

Why does smoking maintain its allure? James Hamblin seeks the wisdom of a cool person.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

Just In