Risk of raising food

KIMT News 3 – It’s a case that has caught national attention.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter are both facing charges due to a salmonella outbreak linked to their farm back in 2010. More than 500 million eggs were recalled due to the shells of the eggs being tainted with salmonella. The company is also facing a felony charge of introducing mis-branded food into interstate commerce and bribing.  Because of this, one local company is thriving.

Tony Halsted of Hoover Hatchery, a business that people can buy chickens to raise says when he heard about the case surrounding the DeCoster Egg Farm and the salmonella recall making headlines, its no wonder were seeing an up-tick in business.

“Salmonella can be caused anywhere in the industry, not just DeCoster. Our small family business is operated in such a way that we try to sell smaller amounts of chickens all over the United States to people that wanted to raise them for their neighbors or for themselves, so they know where their eggs are coming from,” said Halsted.

Halsted has the eggs brought in from local farms, incubates them, and awaits the birth of the baby chicks. The chicks are sent off to those who may be living in your neighborhood or even to states nationwide.

But, his business isn’t just growing because of the demise of another. He’s also growing along with the demand that more people are interested in raising chickens to be closer to their food.

“They’re buying them. They can buy 25 or 50 at a time and have enough eggs to raise for their own family, to be self sufficient, to raise them in a natural way, and to know where they’re eggs are coming from,” said Halsted.

Brian Hanft at Cerro Gordo County Public Health isn’t surprised to see the shift either. He says with the food industry getting better and better at tracking how food is handled before it hits stores or restaurants, its no surprise to see cases like the DeCosters being taken just as serious.

“We eat, and breathe and live this stuff every single day and we take it very seriously. We, as a county really invest heavily in working very closely with our establishment owners so that they know the importance of food safety,” said Hanft.

Hanft says what people don’t realize is, that these outbreaks can be prevented.

“If you’re cooking food to 165 degrees for 15 seconds, you can eat all the salmonella contaminated eggs out of 550 million but if you cook them to the right temperature that salmonella is going to be killed every single time,” said Hanft.

For Halsted, whether you’re cooking it right or not, knowing you raised it will soon be he feels the “cluck” of the town.

“Absolutely, I think the nation is going back to self sustaining,” said Halsted.

The DeCosters are facing up to a year in prison according to Bill Marler who represented some of the victims of the outbreak. He says they could also be facing a $250,000 fine.

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