P.E.I. bed and breakfast egg story a case of delayed and selective prosecution

According to a recent CBC news story from March 18, a Prince Edward Island couple who operate a small bed and breakfast on the island were visited by a health inspector who forbade them to continue serving meals made with eggs from their own hens. The story goes on to say that the inspectors assert that the regulations behind their action are not new but have been on the books for a long time. The couple, Paul and Jean Offer, are so upset by the whole thing that they are going to close their B&B rather than buy supermarket eggs for their guests.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that the same sort of things go on in other jurisdictions. One Ontario farmer that I know was upset when he first heard several years ago about new requirements for eggs to be graded before being sold to customers, and so he called up the government department responsible for the ruling and asserted that he was going to break the law and that they should come and arrest him. Guess what. They declined to do so. They apparently didn’t want a fuss kicked up when the law was introduced, and the best way they saw to do that was to not enforce it for a while. Now that case was a few years ago, and more recently the enforcement of such regulations has been ramped up.

One instance of this sort of enforcement involved a private school north of Toronto where health inspectors forbade teachers from having preschoolers collect eggs from the school’s own chickens, then cook and eat them in the school’s kitchen. Once again the problem was that the eggs were not passing through a government approved inspection and grading process. The view of food safety implied in this requirement clearly places little value on the freshness and localness you can get from having your own backyard hens, not to mention the feeling of wholeness and integration children get from participating in the full process from farm to table. Rather, what this teaches, is that a narrow definition of food safety trumps all these values.

As seen in the outcome of the CBC story mentioned at the start, this action by regulators undermines and impoverishes local culture and tourist attractions on P.E.I. Meanwhile other government departments pay lip service to encouraging culinary tourism. Good luck with that, in this regulatory climate. There’s less reason to travel to a distant place if you don’t get anything special or local to eat there because government regulators decree that everyone must buy their ingredients through the supermarket food chain. So it’s a lose lose situation. Clearly it’s time for new values to be asserted if we’re going to be left with food worth eating.

7 Comments

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7 responses to “P.E.I. bed and breakfast egg story a case of delayed and selective prosecution

  1. Tony

    This is just common sense meeting common sense. I assume most people reading this would love labeling to say something is GM but don’t like too much regulation. Consumers need to know that they food comes to a consistent standard . All this couple needs to do is develop and introduce a version of standardization for their eggs like others – but they are bloody minded to say to hell with the regulations and we wouldn’t bossed around. They should try living in the EU where the regulations are much higher.

    • Adrien Lapointe

      Tony,

      If I understand your reasoning I should have the spinach I grow inspected as well before I sell them to my neighbour…You know cases of E. coli have been reported on spinach before…Or better, maybe I should microwave them before selling them to him just to be on the safe side.

      Sarcasm appart, I believe there is a big difference between asking labeling on products containing GMO and inspection of eggs. At a grocery store, the attendants know very little about where the products come from and even less about where the ingredients that constitute them come from. In fact, sometimes the processor doesn’t know exactly either (I mean it is commodity stuff, it’s all the same, isn’t it?). Labelling is the main and often only source of information. So unless the label says “contains GMO”, you have no way of knowing. In the case of eggs sold by a backyard farmer or served at a B&B, you can ask as many questions to the producer as you want. You can even, in many cases, see the hens that layed the egg you are about to eat. In the first case, the extra regulation ensures that you get more information, in the second it adds costs and handling that are often unecessary. In most cases you can see right from the beginning if the farm is clean, if the farmer cares, if the hens are healthy. That is the old fashion way that has worked since humans eat eggs.

      You may say that you can get fooled by careless farmers and get sick eating bad eggs, but I dare anybody to prove that a “government run” inspection program is a better protection against bad food than a “consumer run” inspection program. In fact, both are based on the belief that when the inspector is not looking the producer does the same as when he’s looking. The main difference is that the government inspector might never eat the stuff he inspects, so he does not have the same at stake as a consumer inspector. The point is that no inspection offer a hundred percent protection against bad food.

    • Judith Choisser

      Please feel free to eat all the anti-biotic, hormone ridden eggs you want, but please don’t tell anyone else that they have no common sense if they don’t want to. You sound so uneducated.

  2. Protein Twist

    Are weakened (absent) immune systems able to remove microbes on unsanitized food ingested by humans ?

    The “Sheep and Longevity” piece on CBC’s Quirks and Quarks reported on mammalian immunity systems, namely, that animals with the most antibodies live the longest. Second, CBC’s “The Current” did a piece called “Rare diseases” (now online) including medication called interferon(Wikipedia – interferon) What’s the difference between recombinant DNA products and medicines and whole food proteins that reach the blood stream via the digestion system? Proteins harvested in labs and injected into the blood against proteins in food and those produced in the body ? Are they physically or functionally different ? Do heat treated proteins in food perform in the body after they have been digested (in hydrochloric acid etc.) ?

  3. Tony = where in the ‘core values’ of the Dominion of Canada does it say “Consumers need to know that they [ sic ] food comes to a consistent standard” ? Only communists presume that humans are such animals they cannot think for themselves … thus, need a commissar to do it for them

    The Campaign for REAL MILK is part of the anti-global-ist, movement to get the over-educated bureaucrats off our backs. If you want a nanny-state, with a police-officer at every elbow, you’d like it in Red China, and the other socialist utopias

    Fortunately, British Columbians still have enough common sense to ignore the dunces who’re charged with enforcing that nonsense = ie. all eggs sold must go through a govt. licenced grading station. Here, one of the largest quota holders of ‘organic’ eggs, sells as many dozens to the ‘black market’ as he does to the commerical system. For ‘black market’ read : “free market”

  4. RICHARD BARRETT

    To all that eat non government inspected eggs, please e-mail

    Barry MacGregor macgredb@gov.ns.ca and please be kind.
    He is Joe Bradley’s top boss, President of Prov. Dept. of Health.

    Let us encourage the Health Inspectors to leave the small farms alone
    unless there is a sickness. It is our tax dollars that pays them.

  5. Jan C.

    Well, so much for my trip to Prince Edward Island.

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