In Egg Industry Magazine’s annual list of the “Top 60” egg producers, the West Mansfield, OH-based Nature Pure was not the biggest.

It was the smallest with 200,000 laying hens, but it has come in for an early inspection under the new shell egg regulations that went into effect last summer.

Ohio is the nation’s second-largest shell-egg producing state, so it was certain to come it for attention as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration goes about its enforcement duties.

Nature Pure was the subject of an inspection last Feb. 7 to 16, and FDA collected environmental samples from three of the four active egg-layer houses.  “All three of the environmental samples taken by FDA were subsequently found positive for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE), the agency said in a May 27 warning letter to the egg producer.

The warning letter said that after Nature Pure was informed of the positive tests for SE, FDA inspectors returned for a re-inspection from Feb. 28 to March 2.  They found the facility continued to be in violation of the new shell egg regulation for prevention of SE.

The FDA inspectors therefore found Nature Pure’s eggs to be adulterated under federal laws and regulations, including the shell egg regulation.  

The violations FDA said it found include:

  • Not maintaining any documentation for the egg-sampling program, which claimed to be checking 1,080 eggs from each production house for SE.

  • Failure to test the pullet environment for SE.

  • A written SE prevention plan that lacked cleaning and disinfection producers.

  • A prevention plan that does not include monitoring for flies.  The egg producer said it planned to have a program for fly monitoring in place by April 15.

FDA said it also was concerned about the method Nature Pure is using to detect SE in environmental samples. It has asked the company for additional documentation.

Late last summer — shortly after the new egg  rule took effect — an SE outbreak at two Iowa egg production facilities led to the largest shell egg recall in U.S. history — -more than half a billion eggs.

Both of those Iowa facilities were owned or affiliated with DeCoster Egg Farms, the nation’s third-largest egg producer with 13 to 15 million laying hens.  Egg Industry Magazine notes that the ownership of DeCoster affiliates “is not transparent.”

The magazine’s rankings were published in January.