Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Commission seeks cracks information

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission appears to be finally taking a closer look at the incidence of cracked eggs going to market.

The commission filed an Access to Information request with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency this year to get a copy of a report on a national survey of cracks, leakers and dirty eggs.

What it learned ought to be highly disturbing because Ontario’s two largest egg-grading stations have a much poorer track record than the national survey indicated.

The data for Burnbrae Farms Ltd. and L.H. Gray and Son Ltd., which market about 90 per cent of the eggs in Ontario, came from a request for random-sample CFIA survey results that Ontario Farmer received last year.

That information revealed that sometimes the two companies had more than 10 per cent of their eggs failing to meet Grade A standard on the retail carton.

The national survey results in 2010 and 2011 show only three samples with more than 10 per cent cracks, and they may be the ones revealed for Burnbrae and Gray; the grading company is not revealed in the data provided to the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.

Only three samples of the 219 test results turned up no cracks, but more than half of the samples had less than two per cent cracks.

There were 22 that had between five and 10 per cent or more cracks in the pack.

There were 14 cases of dirty eggs in the pack with one result identifying five dirty eggs.

Joe Hudson, owner of Burnbrae Farms, testified in a court affidavit that he believes the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has an administrative tolerance for about five per cent cracks. There is, however, no evidence that the CFIA has any tolerance for cracks.

The Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission has engaged and individual to conduct an inquiry into governance at the Egg Farmers of Ontario marketing board after a couple of complaints, requesting a public inquiry, were filed with the commission several years ago.