Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Egg grading reports are censored

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has slapped censorship on 35 reports of its results of random-sample checks to determine the accuracy of grading by L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd. and of  Maple Lynn and Sons Ltd. which is controlled by Burnbrae Farms Ltd.

The two companies account for more than 90 per cent of the egg grading in Ontario.

They are also the subject of a lawsuit in which electronic files provided by whistleblower Norman Bourdeau are in hot contention. Bourdeau alleges that Gray, a company he worked for, cheated on grading.

The Access-to-Information Co-ordinator at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency furnished only 35 reports covering three years of egg grading at the two companies.

Although Burnbrae is the larger of the two, only nine reports were provided from that company compared with 26 from L.H. Gray and Sons Ltd.

There is no indication why the smaller company was random-sampled almost three times as often.

The Canadian Food Inspection cites privacy of personal information as one of the reasons for its censorship. Another reason cited is confidentiality for “an account of consultations or deliberations involving officers or employees of a government institution, a minister of the Crown or the staff of a minster of the Crown.”

The third reason cited for the censorship is “financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party and is treated consistently in a confidential manner by the third party.”

In short, the government won’t reveal information to indicate whether the public is being cheated by the two industry-dominant egg graders.

So why do we, the public, pay the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to check the accuracy of egg grading? And why does the CFIA think that 35 checks over three years suffices to ensure accuracy?

This is is awful. In fact, given Bourdeau's allegations, worse than awful.