Monday, July 29, 2019

Egg substitution rife in Australia

It has been officially established by enquiries into recent salmonella outbreaks that it is common practice in the industry for eggs to be acquired from a variety of sources and packaged with a single label for distribution to supermarkets. The NSW Department of Primary Industries has revealed something that the industry has known about for years. The introduction of egg stamping was supposed to ensure the traceability of eggs back the property on which they were laid. But  after lobbying by big producers and supermarkets, politicians changed the requirement for on-farm stamping and now allow stamps to be applied at the time eggs are packaged by major grading floors. The ACCC  has a wide range of information following successful prosecutions in the Federal Court. There is no doubt that egg substitution has been rife for decades. Major sellers package eggs from wherever they can get them and sell through supermarkets. The producers justify this by saying that they are required to meet the supply demands from major retailers.  If they don’t send enough eggs each week, the producers risk losing their contracts.  That’s why no genuine free range eggs can be found in supermarkets – they simply don’t have enough volume to meet supermarket demands. The ACCC tried to solve the problems and a series of Federal Court decisions on free range production highlighted the issues to such an extent that politicians stepped in to protect producers from prosecution. The egg labelling standard they introduced endorsed deception by the industry. The WA Government is looking at tightening regulations there in an effort of protect consumers – but no other States appear to be interested. The recent Salmonella scare demonstrated the problem of traceability when producers package eggs from many places across the country without revealing the source.

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