When it comes to egg safety and quality, there’s no shortage of ways Canadian farmers and producers work to ensure top quality-standards. From the Start Clean-Stay Clean® Program to field inspectors who monitor and report on standards, egg farmers across Canada are dedicated to providing world-class nutritious eggs.
To make it easy for Canadians to spot high-quality Canadian eggs, Egg Famers of Canada launched the Egg Quality Assurance™ (EQA®) program. This is a national certification that makes it easier for consumers to identify top-quality eggs and for farmers to band together to uphold those same quality standards. Encompassing all parts of Canada’s egg supply chain, partners work together to meet the program’s standards.
10 things to know about Canada’s Egg Quality Assurance™ (EQA®) program
- Look for the (EQA®) mark
The distinctive mark makes it easy to identify made-in-Canada eggs, helping customers know that their eggs have met world-class standards for food safety and animal care. Buyers can look for the mark on egg cartons, egg products, and restaurant menus.
- There are five producing partners
Fertilized eggs are incubated at hatcheries, where chicks are hatched after 21 days. From there, the chicks are transferred to a pullet farm for about 19 weeks. Once mature, hens are moved to a laying barn, where their eggs are collected and shipped to grading stations. There are a variety of farms for hens, including enriched colony housing, free range, and free run. Once the eggs have reached the grader, they may be sold directly to retail stores or the hospitality sector, or be sold to a processor, who transform the eggs into other items, where they’re then sold.
- Candling is used to examine quality
Grading stations are where many quality checks take place. Eggs are washed and gently scrubbed at a grading station, matching gentle care with rigorous standards. Candling is a process where bright lights are shone through the egg to check three things: the size of the air cell, the thickness of the shell, and to ensure the yolk is centered. This helps determine if eggs are Grade A quality eggs.
- Third-party audits are regularly conducted
Farms and processors are regularly inspected to ensure all safety and quality standards are met. Using a third-party helps ensure the process is neutral and unbiased. All standards are reviewed and requirements are regularly updated as new research and data becomes available.
- Accurate and up-to-date records must be kept
Throughout all steps of the quality process, records need to be current and available in order to verify where each egg came from.
- The program runs coast to coast
Regulated egg farmers from British Columbia to Newfoundland all participate together so Canadians can shop for their eggs with confidence knowing the utmost care has been taken in providing them with nutritious eggs.
- It’s a multi-layered certification program
In order to receive and maintain their EQA® certification, Canadian egg farmers must meet the requirements of both the national Animal Care Program and Start Clean-Stay Clean® Program. Our Canadian farmers take great pride in upholding their certifications and meeting the program requirements.
- Canadians support the EQA® program
Canadians find the EQA® mark makes a positive difference when it comes to trust and confidence in their eggs, as well as the farmers, grocers, and restaurant owners who offer EQA® certified eggs, according to a March 2021 Egg Farmers of Canada study1.
- It’s about more than just quality
The EQA® program encompasses more than quality standards for eggs—it’s also about animal welfare. Farmers inspect their flocks at least twice per day, regularly monitoring hen behaviour and feather condition of their hens, as well as the barn environment.
- It provides peace of mind
Canadians can rest easy knowing the eggs they purchase to feed themselves and their family meet rigorous safety standards. It’s of the utmost importance to the Canadian farmers and producers coast to coast, as well as the Egg Farmers of Canada, that families enjoy healthy, nutritious and safe options when it comes to their diet. Retailers and the hospitality industry can also feel confident about purchasing the best quality eggs and meeting their consumers needs and desires.
For more information on the Egg Quality Assurance™ (EQA®) program, view a few of our favourite stories from the 2019 launch of the program.
1 Environics Analytics, March 2021