Given the simplicity of an egg, it may surprise you to learn that aspects of the egg industry are anything but! In reality, many precise and comprehensive programs, processes and policies are in place all along the supply chain to ensure Canadians get fresh, local, high-quality eggs and products.
As the national body representing the almost 1,100 regulated egg farms in Canada, Egg Farmers of Canada has some unique contributions to the Canadian egg enterprise. For example, three key areas we oversee on behalf of all Canadian egg farmers are food safety, animal welfare and supplying processors with eggs for value-added products.
On the food safety side, egg farmers adhere to EFC’s Start Clean-Stay CleanTM program, which has been technically reviewed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Under the program, all regulated egg farms in Canada are inspected by EFC’s officers to ensure that farmers are following program requirements.
Similarly, EFC’s inspectors ensure regulated egg farmers are producing eggs according to science-based animal welfare guidelines. EFC’s Animal Care Program was established in 2004, in conjunction with provincial and territorial egg boards and is based on the Recommended Code of Practice for the care and handling of pullets, layers and spent fowl, which is backed by science. The Code was developed in collaboration with veterinarians, scientists, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, egg processors and egg farmers themselves.
For everything from vaccines to ready-made omelettes to cake mixes, EFC purchases over $160 million worth of eggs annually from graders for Canada’s processing industry. Processing plants, or “breakers”, literally crack eggs to pool the liquid, pasteurize the contents and then process the eggs into liquid, dried or frozen forms.
Given the centrality and importance of these programs to the industry, EFC’s Operations Department developed its own comprehensive quality management system. Through training of staff, the development of Standard Operating Procedures and the mapping of all processes, amongst other things, quality and continuous improvements are assured. As of November 2012, their hard work paid off in the form of ISO 9001:2008 certification.
“Given the diverse needs of different partners, the intricacies of the operations and the need for continual innovation, ISO certification seemed like a logical and fitting next step,” said Neil Newlands, Chief Operating Officer for EFC. “We were gratified to learn we met the rigourous requirements and in less steps than are often required,” he added.
The achievement of this milestone has not only been a feather in the Department’s cap (pun intended), but has also led to better purpose and direction as well. The staff have become trained ISO 9001 lead auditors and their increased understanding of needs and requirements is leading to better outcomes for all stakeholders in the egg supply-chain—from farmer to Canadians’ tables!