Thursday, April 08, 2010
I've been part of the audit team set up by the Australian Egg Corporation since the inception of the National Egg Quality Assurance Program. But now I will spend more time on the farm and consulting on environmental issues.
The ECA program has evolved over the years and it now covers some aspects of environmental management as well as food safety standards on farms. It also audits grading floors - whether they are part of a farm operation or a separate entity, grading and packing eggs from various suppliers.
The costs associated with being an auditor for the ECA program make it unviable for a small operator like me. There has been insufficient work to justify the expenses - which is presumably one of the reasons the Australian Egg Corporation is handing over auditing rights to a 'global auditing company'.
The program has been vital in trying to gain consumer confidence in the face of all the scandals about the lack of 'truth in labelling' . There have been so many examples both here and overseas where smart operators have substituted eggs so they could make a quick buck.
The ECA logo on a carton of eggs is one of the assurances consumers have to give them confidence about product traceability which guarantees that the eggs in the carton were produced by the method identified on the label.
To be sure that the hens really are allowed to range freely, buyers should always look for the logo of the Free Range Farmers Association, which conducts independent inspections of member farms every year to ensure compliace with strict standards.