Former egg industry executives Austin “Jack” DeCoster and Peter DeCoster have been sentenced to serve three months in jail after being found guilty on charges related to a multi-state Salmonella outbreak that occurred in 2010. The two men were sentenced April 13 in federal court in Sioux City, Iowa, on misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.
Both Jack DeCoster, and his son Peter, remain free as they appeal their sentences, the Associated Press reported.
The conviction comes after a lengthy judicial process that followed a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that was traced back to the DeCosters’ former company, Quality Egg LLC. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked 1,939 illnesses to the Salmonella outbreak, but officials have argued that many more -- as many as 56,000 people -- may have become ill after the eggs entered commerce.
The Salmonella outbreak also led to the recall of more than 550 million eggs.
The two pleaded guilty on June 3, 2014 to the charges. The DeCosters’ attorney had argued that the former egg executives should only pay a fine and did not deserve jail time, as federal prosecutors said they had found no evidence that the DeCosters were aware they were selling tainted products. However, as corporate officers, the father and son could still be held legally responsible.
Both men were also fined $100,000, and Quality Egg paid a fine of $6.8 million.