According to congressional investigators, Wright County Egg, the Iowa company at the center of a half billion egg recall tied to more than 1,500 cases of Salmonella, had received hundreds of positive tests for the bacteria since 2008.

Documents released yesterday reveal that between 2008 and 2010 the company had received 426 positive test results for Salmonella contamination at its egg facilities, 73 of which were “potentially positive” for Salmonella enteritidis, the strain of the bacteria linked to the multistate outbreak.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter yesterday to the company’s owner, Austin “Jack” DeCoster, asking that he come prepared to explain why his company’s facilities tested positive, what actions his company took to address the contamination, and whether the positive results were shared with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or other federal or state food safety officials.

DeCoster is scheduled to testify in a hearing on the egg recall the committee is hosting next week, along with Orlando Bethel, president of Hillandale Farms of Iowa, the second company involved in the egg recall, and Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at FDA. DeCoster is likely to face tough questions from lawmakers, especially in light of his long history of violating health, safety, animal cruelty, and environmental laws. According to a company spokesperson, DeCoster has agreed to cooperate with lawmakers during the hearing.
The full text of the letter and dozens of environmental sample reports, are available on the committee’s website here