Iowa Public Radio / Amy Mayer

Iowa hit a milestone in its avian influenza recovery this week by lifting the last quarantine on a commercial poultry farms affected by the virus. A Sac County turkey farm can now begin repopulation.

Commercial facilities hit by avian flu are required to wait three weeks after disinfection before they can repopulate. Seventy-two Iowa sites were affected by the 2015 bird flu outbreak, and more than 31 million birds were killed.

Photo by Amy Mayer

Cage-free eggs could be coming to a breakfast near you.

Several large food companies and restaurants, from Starbucks to McDonald's to Kellogg's, announced timelines this year for phasing out eggs laid in conventional cages, a victory for animal welfare advocates who have pushed for changes for years.

But there is more to housing hens than square inches and some egg farmers argue the cage-free barns are less humane than traditional hen housing.


The cost of a dozen eggs has dropped about a dollar since August, when the price was roughly double from the previous year as a result of the worst outbreak of avian influenza in the nation’s history. But bird flu is only part of the reason egg prices were so high this summer.

Photo by Austin Kirk/Flickr

Current high egg prices are likely to continue, as the nation’s flock of egg-laying hens is at its smallest since 2004 thanks to the massive outbreak of avian influenza this spring.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s official numbers show nationally egg production dropped five percent in May compared to May 2014. But in Iowa, the nation’s largest egg producer and the state whose hens took the hardest hit from the flu, the figure is 28 percent.

IPR file photo by Kathleen Masterson

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will soon allow pasteurized egg imports from the Netherlands because of dwindling supplies and higher prices caused by the huge bird flu outbreak in the Midwest.

IPR file photo by Kathleen Masterson

As the number of farms hit with avian flu grows over 100 nationwide, regulators are implementing containment plans meant to stop the virus’ spread, spare millions of at-risk birds and thousands of poultry farms.

Farms in many states, including Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, are struggling to contain an active outbreak.

“A rapid response is extremely important in an infectious disease outbreak like this,” said Jim Roth, head of the Center for Food Safety and Public Health at Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

Will Curran/Flickr

A federal district court has upheld a California law requiring eggs sold in the state to come from hens housed in more spacious cages.

Host Ben Kieffer talks with Seattle, Washington food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who represented some of those sickened in a 2010 salmonella outbreak caused by contaminated eggs.  This week a settlement was reached with Quality Egg and two of its top executives, Jack and Peter DeCoster.  Marler says Jack DeCoster comes to the court with a "checkered past," that could make jail time more likely in this case.

Shannon Miller

The manager at an Iowa Egg Farm implicated in a national salmonella outbreak will admit he tried to bribe a federal official to sign off on unsafe eggs.

In 2010 a salmonella scare spread across the country—500 million eggs were recalled and 2,000 people fell sick.

Now a federal prosecutor says the manager of the farm the bacterial outbreak was traced back to—Tony Wasmund—has agreed to plead guilty to attempting to bribe a public official. Wasmund apparently offered $300 to a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector to let eggs that didn’t pass muster go to market.

Salmonella found again on Iowa farm

Sep 10, 2012
Shannon Miller

It’s been two years since a salmonella outbreak was traced back to several Iowa farms—including Centrum Valley Farms. As Iowa Public Radio’s Sandhya Dirks reports, another strain of the deadly bacteria has re-appeared on that same farm.