Store Does End-Run Around Egg Safety

Here’s a chuckle, and a caution:

Store sells cartons, gives away eggs

A health food store in eastern P.E.I. is looking for a way around health regulations after provincial officials told them to stop selling eggs they buy from local farmers.

The eggs haven’t been inspected, and officials say that violates health regulations. Mary and Chris Mermuys of Turning Point Health Food in Montague have been selling eggs from local producers for seven years, but were only told last week to stop.

The eggs are still available at their store, but they say they’re giving them away. If you want a carton to carry them in, however, it will cost you $2.75.

A lot of people are bound to cheer this ingenious end-run around what they see as bureaucratic red tape.

But ask yourself: is this the sort of behaviour you want adopted by businesses, generally? Should businesses do an end-run around rules that they happen to disagree with? Would we cheer a bigger company using the same tactics? How about a pharmacy distributing pharmaceuticals in the same way?

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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3 Responses to Store Does End-Run Around Egg Safety

  1. It’s a shame that the small stores have to do this and we’d all be appalled if the pharmaceutical companies would do the same, but it wouldn’t come to that for them. Since they own the politicians who make the decisions.

    The real question is how can we get it so that small farms and stores don’t have to jump through these loopholes? Our tax money goes towards cracking down on this and raw milk, while factory farming practices go unscathed. That’s what’s really sad.

  2. Paulette says:

    I would question their business practices in general. Illegal is illegal. A large company doing this would have lawsuits left right and centre, never mind public outrage. When it comes to food safety a large grocery chain would understand that an illegal practice would cause them far to much damage to risk, even if inclined to do so. In other words they have far too much to lose. Enforcement always seems unfair when directed to a small operation. And while it is true that an outbreak of any kind, should it occur in such this size of operation it won’t affect as many people as a large operation with national distribution. I suspect however, that those affected would not be any happier because they are few in number.
    If you can not source product from appropriately inspected farms, then you should not be selling the product. Period. Selling the cartons instead of the eggs is just plain dodgy and one that I doubt would hold up in a court of law.
    Note – although the argument is that is not selling the eggs, but you can be sure the farms are and it is just as illegal for them to sell to a retailer so as it is for the store to sell to consumers.
    Small operations need to follow rules as much as large ones. When it comes to food safety we can’t have looser standards just because an operation is small.
    the proper course of action is for the store to approach its suppliers about getting inspected. If all is well on their farms, it should not change anything except the legality of their enterprise.

    • Paulette:

      Well put. In addition, it’s worth considering what would happen if something went wrong — say, a case of salmonella. A small store is unlikely to have the deep pockets to deal appropriately with a lawsuit. Big stores carry big insurance. The store in this case is — in spite of their intentions — highlighting a reason to favour BIG stores. Ironic!


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