retail news in context, analysis with attitude

As the coverage of the egg-related salmonella contamination story winds down, the New York Times has a story this morning that may have startled people reading their newspapers as they ate their scrambled eggs or omelets for breakfast:

“In Henhouse No. 1 at the Hi-Grade Egg Farm here, the droppings from 381,000 chickens are carried off along a zig-zagging system of stacked conveyor belts with powerful fans blowing across them.

“The excrement takes three days to travel more than a mile back and forth, and when it is finally deposited on a gray, 20-foot high mountain of manure, it has been thoroughly dried out, making it of little interest to the flies and rodents that can spread diseases like salmonella poisoning.

“Standing by the manure pile on a recent afternoon, Robert L. Krouse, the president of Midwest Poultry Services, the company that owns the Hi-Grade farm, took a deep breath. The droppings, he declared, smelled sweet, like chocolate.”

The story goes on:

“Controlling manure and keeping henhouses clean is essential to combating the toxic strain of salmonella that sickened thousands of people this year and prompted the recall of more than half a billion eggs produced by two companies in Iowa.

“Chocolaty smells or not, the Hi-Grade facility appeared very different from the descriptions released by federal investigators of the Iowa farms that produced the recalled eggs. Those farms, most of them owned by Austin J. DeCoster, one of the country’s largest egg producers, were portrayed as filthy and badly maintained, with manure piles teeming with maggots and overflowing from pits beneath henhouses.

“Those are not the images the egg industry wants consumers to have. Nor are they necessarily representative of most egg farms, federal regulators and industry officials agree.”
KC's View:
This actually is the kind of story that needs to be told more often as the food industry marginalizes anyone who threatens to undermine the image of an industry first and foremost concerned with food safety.