Food safety litigation firm Marler Clark LLP filed a petition with the U.S. District Court in Iowa this week to gain access to Wright County Egg, one of the farms responsible for the recent widespread egg recall and nationwide Salmonella outbreak.

The firm filed an expedited “Rule 34” petition, or request for “Entry Upon Land for Inspection and Protective Order.”  The petition, if accepted by the court, would allow the firm to go inside the Wright County Egg Farm facility to inspect, document, and conduct microbiological testing.

chicken-barn-iphone.jpg“According to the FDA inspection, the condition and operation of this egg facility is at the source of the contamination that led to thousands of illnesses nationwide,” said attorney Bill Marler. “As with the PCA peanut butter outbreak, the facility itself was an important part of the evidence, and it was critical to see it ourselves.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first inspected the Wright County farm after Salmonella infections were traced to eggs from Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms.  Together, the two producers had to recall 550 million eggs.

Federal inspectors found numerous food safety violations, including unbaited, unsealed holes appearing to be rodent burrows in egg-laying houses, and sanitary lapses, including pits of chicken manure approximately 4 to 8 feet high.  

In addition, environmental tests at the Wright County factory and of its feed were positive genetic matches to 1,469 Salmonella enteritidis illnesses nationwide.

Uncaged birds, live and dead flies and other bugs, as well as failure to wash and disinfect equipment are among the other FDA food safety violations cited in Marler Clark’s petition.

The recalled eggs, one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history, had been distributed to food wholesalers, distribution centers and food service companies.  Illnesses have been confirmed in California, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin.