Results from an undercover investigation by an animal rights group into practices at an egg farm in Turner have been forwarded to state and federal authorities.

The Humane Society of the United States said its one-month investigation at the Hillandale Farm revealed hens packed so closely in cages that they couldn’t spread their wings, dead birds, unmaintained cages and poisoned rodents in hens’ cages.

“The undercover investigator at the facility found numerous unsanitary practices that endanger human health, and appear to violate the law,” said the Humane Society’s complaint to the U.S. Federal Drug Administration. The complaint asks the FDA to conduct its own investigation into the egg farm.

A similar complaint was filed with the Maine Department of Agriculture.

“Given the facility’s history of noncompliance with federal and state laws and regulations and the concerning evidence found by HSUS investigation, we urge the Maine Department of Agriculture to fully investigate the conditions at the facility,” the complaint read.

The organization is making reference to numerous previous violations found at the Turner facility owned by Jack DeCoster. A 2011 investigation by the state of Maine found nearly a dozen violations for which the company paid nearly $135,000 in fines and restitution. Over the past two decades, the farm’s management has been cited for violations of workers rights, and environmental, health and safety regulations.

In 2010, Quality Egg, a DeCoster-owned egg farm in Wright County, Iowa, was involved in a salmonella outbreak linked to approximately 1,939 consumer illnesses in multiple states, according to the FDA. The outbreak led to a recall of millions of eggs. As a result of the outbreak, Jack DeCoster, and his son, Peter, were each ordered to serve three months in prison and pay $6.79 million fine.

DeCoster still owns the egg farm in Turner, but is not involved in its management, according to a company spokesman.


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