By Christina Franc
The Quebec federation of egg producers has launched a unique traceability system, making it the first to be able to trace an egg from farm to table in the province.
Consumers can type in the five characters, starting with “QC,” printed on their eggs on www.oeufs.ca (French only) to learn about the producer, the laying hen’s cage, breeder, hatchery and original reproductive flock. Photos are also available.
The program is in response to the provincial government's minimum regulations to trace eggs and other agricultural products from farm to table, introduced last July. Since then, a variety of traceability systems have started, but the egg tracking system is the first food product to be systematically tracked up until it reaches a customer’s plate. The tracking system was set up with the help of Agri-Traçabilité Québec
“This allows us to weave a more direct link with the consumer,” says Paulin Bouchard, president of the Fédération des producteurs d'oeufs de consommation de Québec, at the annual congress of the Union des producteurs agricoles.
The idea for this project was in play before the agriculture minister's call for traceability. In 2007, Québec ran the first pilot project assisted by the ATQ. A second project was developed in 2009.
With more than a billion eggs produced annually by approximately four million chickens in the province, the FPOCQ says tracking is an excellent move -- for everyone from the consumer to government to producers.
The five-digit code on the eggs identifies the grading station, producer and breeding company, and has been in place since the summer. The system will also make it easier to quickly provide the best public and animal health response in the event of a crisis.
“Our producers are proud of the work they do and would like to show they offer eggs of a superior quality,” Bouchard says.