June 3, 2014 / 4:10 PM / in 4 years

Iowa egg firm expected to plead guilty, pay $6.8 million fine

CHICAGO, June 3 (Reuters) - An Iowa company has agreed to plead guilty and pay about $6.8 million in fines for selling contaminated eggs that were linked with making nearly 62,000 people sick in a massive nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010, according to consent agreements filed in federal court.

Quality Egg LLC is expected to plead guilty on Tuesday morning on federal charges of selling eggs mislabeled to hide how old they were; bribing a federal agriculture inspector at least twice to approve and allow poor-quality chicken eggs to be sold to the public; and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, according to documents filed on Monday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Iowa.

Company owners and executives Austin and Peter DeCoster also were expected to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. Both men each face paying $100,000 fine and face up to a year in prison, according to the court filings.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster and his son Peter were once among the nation’s largest producers of shelled chicken eggs. Attorneys for the men and the company could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday morning.

The 2010 salmonella outbreak involving the DeCosters and their farms hit just as new federal egg-safety rules had come online, which required producers to do more testing for salmonella and take other precautions.

The case is U.S. v Quality Egg, LLC, Austin DeCoster and Peter DeCoster, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Iowa, No. 14-cr-3024. (Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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