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CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — Quality Egg LLC and two top executives have admitted selling substandard eggs containing a “poisonous” substance and bribing a United States federal inspector in a food-safety scandal that sickened thousands.
The Iowa-based company, once among the largest producers of shell chicken eggs in the U.S., along with owners Austin and Peter DeCoster, pleaded guilty recently to federal charges in connection with the nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010.
An estimated 2,000 consumers fell ill during the outbreak after eating eggs tainted with salmonella enteriditis.
Quality Egg pleaded guilty to selling eggs mislabelled to hide how old they were; giving cash bribes to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to approve and allow poor quality chicken eggs to be sold to the public; and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The company has agreed to pay about $6.8 million in fines, according to consent agreements filed in federal court. The ultimate fine will be determined by the court at a sentencing hearing to be set at a later date, according to a justice department spokesperson.