EGGBERT EGGS IMPLEMENTS A COMPLETE EXTERNAL AUDIT PROGRAMME TO VERIFY GENUINE FREE RANGE PRODUCTION

 

Food Safety

The issue of food safety is becoming more important in South Africa as retailers, consumers and the Government start to focus on implementing certain minimum requirements.  Producers and manufacturers will thus have to start put food safety programmes in place supported by a complete traceability system.  Roleplayers will need to know what is going into the food products such as animal proteins and antibiotics in animal feed.  Very few producers for example have a Salmonella risk programme in place including aspects such as preventative vaccination and routine testing of birds and eggs for pathogenic Salmonella.

The decision for Eggbert Eggs to implement a full traceability system linked to the quality control and Salmonella risk programme on all products and not only free range, was easy as we value quality and safety of the products sold and produced by us.

The authentication of our status as a genuine free range supplier to the market by external auditors is a first step of rolling out a programme of a more comprehensive food safety programme.

Genuine Free Range

We at Eggbert Eggs soon realised that the implementation of an externally audited free range authentication programme is important to give our customers the utmost confidence that the higher price they pay for free range is for the real product.  Let us not wait for an investigative reporter to show the world that eggs labelled as “free range” are actually produced by hens kept in cages.  This will not only damage the free range egg market but can negatively influence consumers trust in egg producers in general with resultant reduction in consumption.

Eggbert Eggs is one of the largest if not the largest free range marketers in South Africa selling the production of more than 170,000 free range hens.  Our market includes blue chip retailers serving the Gauteng and Kwazulu Natal markets.

It however became increasingly difficult to compete against fraudulent producers selling battery eggs as free range at prices below the cost of production of free range eggs.  Most retailers also do not ask for a thorough authentication programme before listing and many shops have at any given time unproven product on their shelves.

There is only one way of ensuring constant use of only free range produced eggs for free range sales and that is to focus on three areas of the free range value chain.

         1. Ensuring eggs are produced on production units that fully comply with the              Code Of Practise as put forward by The South African Poultry Association.               This code is in line with some of the most stringent international rules for free              range production.

         2. Make sure that total production volumes correlate with sales volume.  Only              about 70% of free range production ends up in the market due to low demand              for mediums and high volumes of dirty eggs.  Hen volumes, production output              and egg volumes per grade need to be monitored on a regular basis to              ensure production exceeds demand.

         3. A full traceability system needs to be in place to ensure only eggs produced              on the free range production unit ends up in free range packaging for the              market.

A well known auditing firm based in Cape Town has been used for developing the programme and for doing the external audit rules covering all aspects of the three areas defined above.  They will on a routine basis conduct an audit, which will include all transactions that took place.  There will thus not be any opportunity for bypassing the system and putting battery eggs into free range.

Eggbert Eggs will also conduct a monthly internal audit based on the same rules to ensure constant compliance.

We hope other companies producing and selling free range eggs will also audit themselves to proof to consumers that they are getting what they pay for.

We also urge retailers to be more strict on their free range suppliers to proof on a constant basis that they only stock genuine free range eggs on their shelves.