Monday, January 13, 2014

Grayridge eggs continue to fail inspection

Hundreds of dozens of eggs graded by Grayridge Eggs continue to flunk federal inspection despite complaints lodged three years ago.

Records released via applications for Access to Information indicate that some eggs Grayridge deemed suitable for supermarkets were in fact so flawed that the eggs were not only cracked, but leaking.

Other shipments were so dirty that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency detained them until the company could try again.

Despite huge problems, there is no indication that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has ever fined the company which is the second-largest egg-grading business in Ontario and Canada.

In fact, with a couple of exceptions, the CFIA allowed the company to try again –i.e. to cull out the defective eggs and market the rest. In the couple of exceptional cases, the company was allowed to ship the eggs to its own plant where eggs are broken and the contents sold as processed eggs, such as pasteurized whites and yolks.

However, in one case the CFIA inspector found the eggs so foul that the company was ordered to keep them off any market.

The records that were released are CFIA inspection reports for 2010 to the fall of last year. A few reports are for 2009, which was before a whistleblower alerted egg-industry marketing-board watchdogs that there are problems in the industry.

However, Svante Lind of Best Choice Eggs launched a lawsuit a couple of years before that, claiming that the leading egg-grading companies, including Grayridge, were marketing cracked and dirty eggs as Grade A.

The companies and the Ontario egg marketing board have denied any wrongdoing in the ongoing lawsuit which claims $35 million for being forced out of business.

Among the deficiencies the CFIA inspectors identified for lots that were ordered detained until they could be re-worked were cracks, dirt, large air sacs indicating the eggs were stale, bloodspots and eggs of the wrong size for the label on the carton.

There are also heavily-censored reports of the quality of eggs arriving from farms at the Grayridge grading stations at Strathroy and Listowel. Despite some clear quality issues, all of them were CFIA-inspector checked as approved.

Haugh units is one measure of quality and a score of less than 64 is considered by many to be too low to be acceptable to consumers. The CFIA reports indicate that some eggs that tested as low as 51.5 and 46 were accepted at Grayridge.

Similar reports are on file for Burnbrae Farms Ltd., the largest egg-grading company in Ontario and Canada. Their release is blocked pending a court challenge Burnbrae has filed in an attempt to keep the information from the public.