Friday, October 12, 2012

Records reveal problems at Burnbrae

Records released this week reveal that Burnbrae Farms Ltd. had trouble meeting grading and sanitation standards at its egg-grading and egg-processing facilities in Ontario in 2009 and 2010.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued 11 detention orders, pulling eggs off the supply chain because they failed to meet the grading standard Burnbrae claimed.

It also detailed persistent failures to meet facility standards at its facilities in Mississauga where it runs Bonee Best Eggs as a division of Maple Lynn Foods.

Inspection report after report cites the same issues, such as ceilings that are not smooth, dirty and pitted floors, standing water around drains and a room to store chemicals left unlocked.

Two of the detention orders involved eggs from L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. to the Burnbrae-owned egg-processing plant.

All of the reports have been heavily censored, blocking out the details of how eggs failed to meet the grading standards claimed and how many eggs were covered by each detention order.

If the failures were cracked and dirty eggs, as seems likely given isolated pieces of uncensored information on some of the reports, there would be significant food-safety issues.

The dirt, which most likely was manure, could contaminate wash water which could, in turn, get inside eggs via cracks. That would make raw eggs a significant risk for consumers.

One of the reports is for substandard eggs Burnbrae shipped to Best Choice Eggs at Blackstock.
Earlier releases of government reports indicate L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. also shipped substandard eggs to Best Choice.

Best Choice has filed a lawsuit against Burnbrae, L.H. Gray and Son Ltd. and the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board, claiming they conspired to drive Best Choice out of business.

Part of that conspiracy, says Best Choice, was shipping the company substandard eggs in response to its application to import from the United States.  The federal government grants the marketing boards an opportunity to line up Canadian eggs to fill those orders.

The Best Choice allegations and company and marketing board defences have yet to be tested in court. The companies deny any wrongdoing.