Aug10

USDA Responds to Egg Farmers Request

USDA Responds to Egg Farmers Request

On July 20th NAEF was in the office of the USDA General Counsel Stephen Vaden asking for better reporting and data collection by the State Veterinary Disease Laboratories.  In trying to evaluate how effective the Egg Rule has been [21 CFR part 118 Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Transportation, and Storage (74 FR 33030)] it was discovered that the labs do not report the egg pool samples as coming from eggs being tested. Instead the information is lumped into one general category "poultry".  How can the government assess the effectiveness of the testing being done and paid for by the individual egg farmer when the reporting is so vague?   That was the question posed to the USDA General Counsel, and he agreed and followed with a promise to consult with Kevin Shea, the Administrator of the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, that very day.  USDA's Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jack Shere telephoned days later to say adjustments would be made in the reporting forms to accurately reflect sample results. 

 

Furthermore, Sec. 118.7 (a) of the Egg Rule requires environmental tests of each poultry house.  If any environmental sample tests positive, Sec. 118.8 requires four 1,000 egg samples tested at 2-week intervals for a total 4,000 eggs. NAEF showed the General Counsel the results from the Iowa State University VDL showing that Salmonella- positive environmental samples do not necessarily translate into contaminated eggs. After testing over 685,000 shell eggs from the summer of 2010 until March of 2016, ISU VDL has found only one positive egg pool, which was during the 2010 national recall. 

 

NAEF informed USDA that it had urged Congress in meetings on July 19-20 to test pooled samples from environmental drag swabs instead of the individual swabs currently required by FDA.   Pooled samples would reduce the financial burden on egg farmers. This is consistent with the 2015 research article (published in Avian Diseases 59:548-553) entitled “Validation of Single and Pooled Manure Drag Swabs for the Detection of Salmonella Serovar Enteritids in Commercial Poultry Houses” by Dr. H. Kinde et.al., California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, School of Veterinary Medicine, San Bernardino, CA. This study showed there is no significant difference between the sensitivity of environmental sampling of four-swab pooled together using the National Poultry Improvement Plan culture method compared to the single swabs analyzed by FDA’s method, but the costs are significantly less.  NAEF has not yet heard back from FDA on this suggested improvement and cost-reducing measure to save testing expenses for the nation’s egg farmers.On July 20th NAEF was in the office of the USDA General Counsel Stephen Vaden asking for better reporting and data collection by the State Veterinary Disease Laboratories.  In trying to evaluate how effective the Egg Rule has been [21 CFR part 118 Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Transportation, and Storage (74 FR 33030)] it was discovered that the labs do not report the egg pool samples as coming from eggs being tested. Instead the information is lumped into one general category "poultry".  How can the government assess the effectiveness of the testing being done and paid for by the individual egg farmer when the reporting is so vague?   That was the question posed to the USDA General Counsel, and he agreed and followed with a promise to consult with Kevin Shea, the Administrator of the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, that very day.  USDA's Chief Veterinarian Dr. Jack Shere telephoned days later to say adjustments would be made in the reporting forms to accurately reflect sample results. 

 

Furthermore, Sec. 118.7 (a) of the Egg Rule requires environmental tests of each poultry house.  If any environmental sample tests positive, Sec. 118.8 requires four 1,000 egg samples tested at 2-week intervals for a total 4,000 eggs. NAEF showed the General Counsel the results from the Iowa State University VDL showing that Salmonella- positive environmental samples do not necessarily translate into contaminated eggs. After testing over 685,000 shell eggs from the summer of 2010 until March of 2016, ISU VDL has found only one positive egg pool, which was during the 2010 national recall. 

 

NAEF informed USDA that it had urged Congress in meetings on July 19-20 to test pooled samples from environmental drag swabs instead of the individual swabs currently required by FDA.   Pooled samples would reduce the financial burden on egg farmers. This is consistent with the 2015 research article (published in Avian Diseases 59:548-553) entitled “Validation of Single and Pooled Manure Drag Swabs for the Detection of Salmonella Serovar Enteritids in Commercial Poultry Houses” by Dr. H. Kinde et.al., California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory System, School of Veterinary Medicine, San Bernardino, CA. This study showed there is no significant difference between the sensitivity of environmental sampling of four-swab pooled together using the National Poultry Improvement Plan culture method compared to the single swabs analyzed by FDA’s method, but the costs are significantly less.  NAEF has not yet heard back from FDA on this suggested improvement and cost-reducing measure to save testing expenses for the nation’s egg farmers.

Aug10

Animal Rights Not on the Menu at Local Diners

Animal Rights Not on the Menu at Local Diners

On July 31, WATT Global noted that many restaurants are not seeing their customers ask for cage free eggs.  Why then are many in the egg industry pushing for cage-free? Here’s what was reported.

 

http://www.wattagnet.com/blogs/27-animal-agribusiness-angle/post/31475-animal-rights-issues-not-on-the-menu-at-local-diners

 

National chains say customer demand for better animal welfare practices have led to changes, but mom and pop restaurants aren’t saying that. Typically, these restaurant chains have made announcements of the pledges, and those announcements typically tend to say they are because of consumer demand. Justifiably so, there has been some skepticism about this and it has more to do with activist pressure and a matter of not wanting to be painted in an unfavorable light. The fact that cage-free eggs aren’t selling as quickly in grocery stores as lower-priced cage-produced eggs alone gives credibility to the skeptics.  If customers are truly concerned about cage-free eggs and other activist-supported food trends, they will let that be known as well.

And wouldn’t you know it, I haven’t seen a single report of how an establishment like “Marvin’s BBQ Hut in Beatrice, Nebraska,” has pledged to only serve chicken from slower-growing broilers. Maybe that’s because Marvin is off the radar of animal rights extremists and he truly knows the wishes of his customers.

Jul12

Price-Fixing Lawsuit Against Eggs Again in the News


Price-Fixing Lawsuit Against UEP and Certain Egg Farmers Back in the News
 
A legal notice was sent out July 10th (see below) announcing the opportunity to provide information for submitting claims in connection with previously-approved settlements with the following defendants: United Egg Producers and United States Egg Marketers (UEP/USEM), National Food Corporation, Midwest Poultry Services, L.P.,  NuCal Foods, Inc., and Hillandale Farms of Pa., Inc. and Hillandale-Gettysburg, L.P. in the price-fixing lawsuit [re Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litig., No. 08-md-2002 (E.D. Pa.)].
 
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/if-you-purchased-shell-eggs-or-egg-products-produced-in-the-united-states-directly-from-any-producer-you-could-be-a-class-member-in-a-proposed-class-action-settlement-300484820.html&;source=gmail&ust=1499960858073000&usg=AFQjCNGQrMDX9ijBINNuEsTgFskHugRVjQ">http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/if-you-purchased-shell-eggs-or-egg-products-produced-in-the-united-states-directly-from-any-producer-you-could-be-a-class-member-in-a-proposed-class-action-settlement-300484820.html

What is this lawsuit about?          

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants listed above conspired to decrease the supply of eggs which caused the price of eggs to artificially increase and direct purchasers to pay more for Shell Eggs and Egg Products than they would have otherwise paid. Defendants have denied all liability for this conduct and asserted that their conduct was lawful and/or exempt from the antitrust laws, among other defenses.

Who is included in the Litigation Class?

The Litigation Class includes individuals/entities that purchased Shell Eggs in the U.S. directly from Defendants from 9/24/2004 through 12/31/2008. If you exclude yourself, you will not be entitled to share in any future distributions if Plaintiffs obtain money from a trial or future settlements. The deadline to exclude yourself is October 9, 2017.
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