A judge should consider the “widespread harm” done by a major 2010 salmonella outbreak and the food safety lapses that preceded it in sentencing two egg industry executives whose company was responsible, prosecutors said Monday.
In punishing them next week, U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett should consider that Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter ran a massive egg production operation that “routinely disregarded food safety standards and practices,” assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Deegan wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Jack DeCoster, 80, of Turner, Maine, and 51-year-old Peter DeCoster, of Clarion, Iowa are scheduled to be sentenced April 13 by U.S. District Judge Mark Bennett in a federal courtroom in Sioux City, Iowa. Both pleaded guilty last year to introducing adulterated eggs into interstate commerce and face up to one year in jail.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, prosecutors did not ask for a specific term of jail, home confinement or probation. But the 14-page memo outlined illegal and unethical food safety practices that repeatedly happened on their watch, and argued the sentences should send a message to other corporate executives to “act responsibly when it comes to food safety.”
The DeCosters and their company, Quality Egg, knew that their Iowa egg facilities were at risk for contamination long before the 2010 outbreak, which sickened thousands, Deegan argued.