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California Uses Dogs to Sniff Out and Destroy Consumer Soy-free Egg Shipments

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Box of eggs shipped from Wisconsin.

by Brian Shilhavy
Health Impact News

Earlier this year (March 2017) we reported how the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture issued “cease and desist” orders to a few small-scale Amish egg farmers in Wisconsin who have been shipping soy-free cage-free eggs [1] to customers across the U.S. for over 7 years. See:

Wisconsin Shuts Down Soy-free Egg Market: Denies Consumers Choice to Purchase Healthy Eggs [2]

The eggs are from chickens in Wisconsin that roam around in fresh pastures during the summer, and are fed a special feed that contains no soy and no corn. The feed is additionally tested for the presence of GMOs and glyphosate and other herbicides and pesticides prior to feeding to the chickens.

Eggs from chickens with this kind of detail to the chicken feed are quite rare, since it is a special formula developed by Tropical Traditions/Healthy Traditions in conjunction with poultry biologists.

Tropical Traditions originally developed the feed without soy due to the fact that many people have soy allergies, and that studies show that the soy isoflavones pass from the feed into the tissues and egg yolks. (See: Soy-free Chicken Feed Developed with Coconut Pulp for Soy-free Eggs [3])

The main complaint in the letter from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture was that they were shipping the eggs to the consumers unrefrigerated.

California Tries to Keep Wisconsin Eggs Out of Their State

Given the fact that eggs typically do not require refrigeration to stay fresh, and that in many parts of the world, such as Europe, eggs are sold unrefrigerated, Tropical Traditions looked into what was behind this complaint. It should be noted that the farmers keep the eggs refrigerated on their farm until the customer picks them up or orders them on the Internet, and then chooses a shipping option.

It was discovered that the complaint did not originate from any customers, but from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). CDFA had previously seized shipments of these farm eggs back in 2012 [2], and were apparently upset that they were coming into California unrefrigerated. Details of their complaint can be found here [2].

Tropical Traditions replied that they never owned the inventory of the eggs, and simply provided a service via the Internet where consumers could order the eggs directly from the farmers.

The farmers and representatives from Tropical Traditions/Healthy Traditions worked with the Wisconsin regulators, who responded appropriately and allowed the farmers to continue shipping their eggs. They met with the farmers, and the farmers agreed to make some minor adjustments to comply with Wisconsin State regulations.

Years earlier, when the egg operation was set up in Wisconsin, the farmers likewise worked with local regulators to make sure they were compliant with regulations. See:

Wisconsin Egg Farmers Shipping Eggs Again – For Now [4]

However, California CDFA was not through. Even though there is no record of any customer complaint about the Wisconsin eggs, they sent a warning letter to Tropical Traditions:

CDFA warning letter

Tropical Traditions contacted Ms. Jenna Celigija to try to find out just what the nature of their complaint was, and if any customers had complained about the eggs.

She admitted that the complaint originated from their own investigation by having their own employees order the eggs off of the Internet.

The Department reached this determination by purchasing your product twice and examining the unrefrigerated shipping container it was delivered in, as well as the carton labeling information of the individual cartons therein.

Additionally, CDFA -Egg Safety and Quality Management Program does not have a valid and current Shell Egg Handler’s Registration for your company, as required by Food and Agricultural Code 27541.

Tropical Traditions responded by email on May 11, 2017:

Tropical Traditions/Healthy Traditions never takes ownership of these eggs. As you can see through the ordering process, the consumer purchases the eggs directly from the farmer, and chooses a shipment option. Tropical Traditions only provides the payment service, and never handles the eggs.

Once the purchase is made, the consumer owns the eggs, and they choose the shipment option.

The farmers reside in Wisconsin, and to our knowledge they are compliant with all laws and regulations for on-farm sales. They have worked with local regulators there, and have been in operation now for over 7 years.

Our customers have a variety of reasons for purchasing these specialized eggs directly from the Wisconsin farmers. They may have allergies to commercial eggs, with these eggs being the only ones they can eat. Some of our customers may also be handicapped, and unable to travel to the farm to pick up the eggs.

Tropical Traditions never handles the eggs, and the consumers are the ones using FedEx or another national carrier to ship the eggs to their address.

How would you like us to proceed? Should we put a warning on the egg page letting consumers know that the State of California does not want them shipping eggs to addresses in California?

Tropical Traditions never received a response to this email, so they followed up again with CDFA’s Ms. Celigija on June 5, 2017 and she replied:

Yes the correspondence was received and will be shared with our legal department.
Thank you,

Jenna Celigija

CDFA Uses Dogs to Sniff Out and Destroy Soy-free Eggs at FedEx Facility

Dog used to sniff out drugs or bombs

To date, Tropical Traditions has still not received a reply from the CDFA.

However, last week (July 2017) a California customer of Tropical Traditions emailed customer support stating that her eggs had been destroyed in a FedEx facility (Ontario, CA) by the CDFA.

Just received a call from Fed Ex concerning egg shipment. Dept of Agriculture took package and destroyed.

The FedEx representative contacted the customer and explained that they could not deliver the eggs because the CDFA was destroying the box.

No reason was given.

The FedEx representative told the customer that they would call a little while later with a contact number for the CDFA, but apparently never called back.

A few days later, the farmers in Wisconsin received a letter from the CDFA explaining that the eggs had been destroyed. Note that the “Notice of Rejection” does not state that the eggs were bad. Only that the shipment had “unsafe violations.”

The eggs were not transported at 45 degrees or lower, the eggs were not graded and the Handlers are not registered with the Department. This shipment was inspected by a Dog Team and destroyed due to unsafe violations.

CDFA letter July 2017 [5]Since the customer owned the eggs at this point, the CDFA basically destroyed private property, using regulations and codes designed for commercial egg operators to justify their actions.

They also never replied to Tropical Traditions’ request for advice on whether or not they should warn their customers in California that they did not want them shipping eggs into the state.

Are customers who bring their own eggs into the state of California really breaking any laws?

The CDFA used a “Dog Team” to find these eggs in a FedEx facility, and it does not state that the eggs were bad. Only that the eggs were deemed unsafe by them due to “violations.”

How was the Dog Team able to determine that these eggs were in violation of California regulations?

Will the CDFA also now start using tax payer funds to use Dog Teams to also search private automobiles and other vehicles entering the state carrying eggs that are in “violation” of their regulations?

Warning to California Consumers

If you are a customer in California used to ordering these eggs from Wisconsin, be aware that the CDFA may seize and destroy your eggs.

The name and phone number of the State Plant Quarantine Office who seized these eggs is listed above.

Here is the contact info for the CDFA representative that corresponded with Tropical Traditions:

Jenna M. Celigija
Northern/Coastal District Program Supervisor
Egg Safety & Quality Management Program
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Jenna.Celigija@cdfa.ca.gov
Cell: 916.216.8621
Office: 916.900.5057

See Also:

The War Against Small Family Farms in the U.S. [6]

Food Freedom Laws Needed to Rebuild Economic Prosperity – Reestablish Relationships between Local Food Producers and Local Consumers [7]

Disclaimer: Brian Shilhavy is the editor of Health Impact News and the founder of Tropical Traditions/Healthy Traditions.

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