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Salmonella was often found in eggs at Iowa farm

Federal laws do not require egg producers to notify the Food and Drug Administration if they detect salmonella in their facilities.

But under the new egg rules, a producer who finds salmonella inside a hen house or packing facility cannot sell shell eggs from that facility unless they are tested to determine if they, too, are contaminated. It is unclear whether DeCoster tested the eggs in the facilities where salmonella was detected or whether those eggs were sold to consumers.

It is also not known what steps, if any, Wright County Egg took to clean its facilities after learning about contamination.

A spokeswoman for the committee declined to say how investigators obtained the internal test results.

In the letter to DeCoster, Waxman noted that the company did not notify the committee about the 73 tests that indicated potential contamination with Salmonella Enteritidis.

"The Committee wrote you to ask you to provide 'documents sufficient to show the dates and results of all instances of monitoring or analysis that yielded a positive finding for microbiological testing,'" Waxman wrote. "Despite the Committee's specific request, your response . . . did not include the 73 potentially positive results for Salmonella Enteritidis."

Both the Justice Department and the FDA have launched a criminal investigation into the distribution of the contaminated eggs.

On Monday, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) filed a bill that would strengthen criminal penalties for individuals who knowingly send contaminated food onto the marketplace. It would allow prosecutors to seek prison sentences of up to 10 years for those found guilty.

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