Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Employee of Egg Farm Linked to 2010 Salmonella Outbreak Tried to Bribe USDA Inspector

Former manager to plead guilty in Northern Iowa District Court

A former manager at the Iowa farm responsible for the largest egg recall in history and the 2010 Salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 2,000 people will plead guilty to conspiring to bribe a federal inspector to overlook health violations at the facility.

Tony Wasmund, former employee of Wright County Egg — one of the two operations owned by Austin “Jack DeCoster that were jointly linked to the 2010 outbreak — was accused of authorizing another worker to give $300 to an inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in a complaint filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court of Northern Iowa.

The funds were intended to convince the USDA official to allow the sale of eggs that had been held after failing to meet agency standards, according to the complaint.

Wasmund allegedly authorized the release of these funds August 12, 2010, the day before the first of three egg recalls for potential Salmonella contamination was announced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Five days later, on August 18, the Wright County recall was expanded to include a total of 380 million shelled eggs. On August 20, DeCoster’s Hillandale Farms recalled around 170 million of its eggs, bringing the total number of recalled eggs to 550 million.

In addition to trying to distribute sub-standard eggs for sale to consumers, Wasmund was accused of attempting to label the facility’s eggs with a higher grade level than the one awarded to them by USDA. Wasmund allegedly pushed for “the inclusion of labeling falsely indicating the eggs met a quality grade standard under rules promulgated by the USDA,” and “the omission of labeling to indicate the eggs…could not be lawfully sold.”

Wasmund agreed to plead guilty at a hearing Wednesday morning.

© Food Safety News
  • Joanie

    Ha! $300 isn’t a bribe….it’s an insult.
    It takes at least $425 to bribe a NOFA inspector. But they have always been a classier sort of grifter, no?

  • benj

    Troll comments are an insult to intelligent readers

  • Organic 1der

    Wow, Joanie has a tough inspector. She must live up in New York. Out here in Vermont our inspector (an old family friend) required only the loan of a sheep. Those were being returned each month rather the worse for wear so we agreed on an alternate gratuity of $100 cash and two crates of chickens. We’ve been getting along just fine for years now.

  • Cam Aujuard, REHS

    Actually Organic 1der, you have a conflict of interest if your allowing your “old family friend” to inspect your facility. When I worked with USDA in my past, I removed myself from any inspection (govt rule) when I came into contact with a friend or knew the manager(s)of an facility I was responsible for overseeing. You should really do the same and not “trade” anything with whom ever is inspecting you….regardless of it’s “cutesiness”. And by the way, I don’t mean to be mean, out-of-line, hostile, or in your face, but I’m from Syracuse via Saranac Lake, N.Y. On last review, coming from the State with the highest level of education and educated citizens (N.Y. is second!….California was ranked #45th “after” Mississippi) I would expect more from you being a state neighbor vs those “out here” on the west coast. New York isn’t “out” anywhere from Vermont….it’s next door. Have a grand and splendit day.

  • John

    Cam Aujuard, welcome to the internet! We have what we call “trolls” around these here parts, and Organic-1der is clearly one of them. I promise you he is not who he is claiming to be, and his entire comment is sarcastic deception. He is implying that the inspector(so-called family friend) was using his sheep for sexual purposes.
    Back to the subject at hand: Anyone who attempts to knowingly enter contaminated product into commerce deserves nothing short of immediate forced euthenasia.

  • Marianne

    Yer all baa-aad. In my view, as a former government employee concerned for food safety, Wasmund is a chink in the US food safety armor. Please think about it–2,000 people became ill and salmonella is nothing to fool with–FYI, infants, those with compromised immune systems and the elderly can become dehydrated, heart rhythms can falter and individuals can die from salmonella. I have not seen a recent calculation of how many people have now been hospitalized due to the Indiana cantaloupe (August 2012) contaminated with salmonella, but at last count hospitalizations were in double digits. Serious stuff.