When a national egg recall involved farms far away in Iowa, we were not surprised to hear a familiar name.

Jack DeCoster, a Maine native and notorious owner of egg farms here, has a long record in this state of paying fines and settlements for worker health and safety violations as well as animal cruelty. DeCoster’s Maine operations are now under investigation by Congress, and he is scheduled to testify next week in Washington about his business practices and their role in this summer’s salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,500 people.

It’s too early to give DeCoster’s Maine eggs, which are sold through three farms in which he has a financial stake, a clean bill of health. But it’s worth noting that Maine eggs were not part of the massive recall that involved DeCoster’s other operations.

That could mean that his businesses operate differently in different states, and that Maine’s agricultural regulators could deserve some credit for protecting consumers here.

That’s what some people in Iowa think. In the upcoming election for secretary of agriculture, an elected office there, one candidate is promising an overhaul of egg safety programs that might sound familiar.

According to a story in the Spencer (Iowa) Daily Reporter, Candidate Francis Thicke promises to institute a program based on Maine’s egg-safety plan, calling for vaccination of laying hens, monthly inspections of egg-laying facilities for sanitation, and salmonella testing.

Government regulators don’t usually get much praise, but in Iowa at least, some wish theirs had been a little more aggressive.

Preliminary reports indicate that a DeCoster-owned feed mill in Iowa may have been the source of contamination that later showed up in eggs produced on farms in which DeCoster is a major investor.

A similar, sounding set-up is in operation in Maine. The three farms with which DeCoster is financially tied to in Maine share feed from a mill in Leeds, run by a company he owns. They get their hens from an Ohio farm of which DeCoster is a major investor.

Congressional investigators have requested records from all of DeCoster’s linked businesses in Maine to determine if they were also in danger of spreading disease.

But if they don’t find anything to raise concerns, we shouldn’t give too much credit to the farmer, based on his track record. This may be a case where we have to look to the watchdogs outside the henhouse — Maine’s agricultural regulators —  to find who has been keeping us safe.