AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry said in a statement Wednesday that the eggs from a Turner farm are safe for consumption.

The statement confirmed that the department was investigating an undercover video released Tuesday by the Humane Society of the United States that claims to show animal abuse at the farm, which is operated by Hillandale Farms and owned by Jack DeCoster.

The society asked state and federal Food and Drug Administration officials to investigate the farm for animal cruelty and food safety.

“We have no evidence that would suggest or indicate the eggs coming from those facilities are unsafe for human consumption,” the statement said. “As always consumers are advised to continue normal handling and cooking practices.”

The farm and DeCoster have a long history of issues, lawsuits and complaints from immigrant and animal rights activists and have previously been the subjects of an undercover video sting operation.

On Tuesday, Paul Shapiro, the vice president for farm animal protection with the society, called the Turner farm’s practices, “hideously cruel.”


Upon the release of undercover video footage the 70-barn farm’s operators called for an immediate inspection from state officials.  

A release from John Bott, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, said the state conducted ongoing surveillance reports on the farm involving as many as 10,000 birds and the state had no evidence to support any claims that the eggs from Hillandale Farms were unsafe for human consumption.

The farm, which has an estimated 2 million to 3 million chickens, produces eggs for grocery stores across New England. 

“The Food and Drug Administration has jurisdiction over egg-producing facilities of this size, and they employ their own inspectors, as does the U.S. Department of Agriculture,” the statement from Bott read. “Egg safety at the facility is FDA jurisdiction, under the Egg Safety Rule. Maine’s salmonella enteritidis monitoring program, which helps producers meet the requirements of the FDA’s Egg Safety Rule, applies to facilities with 10,000 or more laying hens producing eggs for human consumption.”

Bott said the state had no reports of food safety violations at the facility either currently or in the recent past.

“State inspectors are routinely present at the site, constantly monitoring and testing for any increased levels of disease pathogens,” according to the release from the Maine Agriculture Department. “To date, our records are complete and do not show abnormal levels.”


The Turner egg farm is the only large-scale, commercial egg producer in Maine, and the eggs are widely sold throughout the state. At Hannaford grocery stores, the eggs are sold under the Hannaford label.

Michael Norton, a spokesman for Hannaford, said Wednesday the supermarket chain will closely monitor the Maine Department of Agriculture’s finding after the state conducts its inspection of the Turner barns.

But, it would be careful about any decision to eliminate the Turner source of supply “because such a change would require bringing new egg supplies into Maine from outside the state,” Norton said.

A growing share of Hannaford egg sales, approaching 20 percent, are cage-free eggs, Norton said. He added that Hannaford has committed to selling eggs that are 100 percent cage-free by 2025.

A Shaw’s supermarket spokeswoman did not respond a Sun Journal request for comment.

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