An old food safety adage says that if one eats a hamburger, it might contain meat from 100 cows.  That maxim might have to be expanded to advise that if you eat 100 eggs, they all might have come from a chicken owned by Jack DeCoster.

Over the weekend, Mississippi’s Cal-Maine Foods Inc., based in Jacksonville, announced it had recalled nearly 300,000 unprocessed eggs from Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC.

On Monday, Cal-Maine said a routine environmental study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration returned with a positive sample for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) from Ohio Fresh Eggs. 

Orland Bethel and Jack DeCoster, the two Iowa producers at the center of the “urgent national recall” last Aug. 20 of more than 500 million shell eggs, both have past links to Ohio Fresh.   

In 2006, state agricultural officials attempted to close down Ohio Fresh because they alleged an ownership team that included Bethel did not properly disclose DeCoster’s role as an anonymous investor.  An appeals body ruled disclosures were sufficient under Ohio’s Livestock Environmental Permitting Program.

Untangling what DeCoster owns and does not own in the U.S. egg industry is almost a table game.   He might be the nation’s largest egg producer, or maybe he’s just in the top 10.

What is known is that Cal-Maine purchased 24,000 dozen unprocessed eggs from Ohio Fresh and then processed and packaged them at the company’s Green Forest, AK facility between Oct. 9 and 12, 2010.

“The eggs involved, which were not produced from Cal-Maine flocks, were distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas,” Cal-Maine said in recalling the eggs.

For its part, Ohio Fresh Eggs says it shipped eggs by error to a customer, presumably Cal-Maine, from a barn where it was holding eggs that had tested positive for Salmonella.

“Ohio Fresh Eggs sincerely regrets the error made on our farm, and we apologize to our customer and consumers who may have purchased the eggs,” said a company statement. “We are redoubling our efforts to ensure thorough and ongoing training of our workers so that the situation in not repeated.”

So far, no illnesses have been associated with this egg recall.