Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Test yourself: The egg carton has a label saying "Trafficanda Egg Ranch, Van Nuys, California. So where do you think these eggs were laid? California, of course. No...wrong. Actually, the hens they came from are sitting there at Wright County Egg farm in Galt, Iowa, and those eggs then travelled all the way to California, to be packaged and distributed here. And, they are now included in the shell egg recall - as of today.

How embarrassing for Trafficanda..and, annoying for us. We consumers in California were innocently buying and eating the eggs, thinking that at least they were California eggs, not Iowa eggs, so they were safe...And, local.

This is just one case. There are plenty of other examples. Moarc LLC, is another California distributor which is recalling over 24,000 eggs - received from the Iowa Hillandale farm, and re-packaged under the under the brand names Albertsons, Yucaipa Valley, Farmer’s Gems and Mountain Dairy, as well as sent to foodservice customers (unbranded). Similar things happened with the peanut product and pistachio outbreaks in 2008-2009.

Our food is distributed, and redistributed and repackaged and relabeled and repackaged and relabeled again. How do we know where it comes from? How will label reading help to keep us safe? We are constantly misled by the label, often confusing the location of the distributor with the place the food item was actually produced. During a recall, such as the present shell egg one, where the number of egg brands are constantly increasing, there is little we can do to make smart purchasing decisions, except to rely on the retailer to pull risky foods off the shelf...which some fail to do. The retailers also have a hard time keeping ahead of the recall-curve.

Of course, retailers could be extra careful, like one of my favorite and fairly safety-conscious local stores. Yesterday, when I walked over to get a carton of fresh eggs, I was met instead with what looked a group of stuffed hens (the correct size and with real feathers). If they hadn't been standing so still, I would have thought they were real. A sign below said something like this: "Our ---- (brand) eggs are not part of the recall, but we have removed them anyway to avoid confusion."

But they are correct: we consumers ARE confused. Who can remember all those different recalled brand names, "best-by" dates and Julian dates when they go to buy eggs? And keeping in mind that this is a constantly expanding list...

Eat beans instead.

Bon appetit!

1 comment:

cynthia said...

Is the FDA considering requiring disclosure of the actual source of eggs and other food products? If not, why not? Wouldn't requiring disclosure make recalls more effective?