Feathers ruffled by egg regulations

Steve Sharratt
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The Health Department is cracking down on numerous country stores and even senior homes to stop the sale of federally uninspected eggs, but Turning Point health food store owners Mary and Chris Mermuys have cooked up their own way to get around the regulations.

MONTAGUE - A local health food store here will no longer sell farm fresh eggs.

Instead, the Turning Point will give them away.

It's not a marketing ploy to boost sales, but a reaction to what the operators say has become an endless stream of rules and regulations.

"We can no longer sell eggs,'' said Chris Mermuys. "But we will sell you the carton with a dozen free eggs inside."

Mermuys and wife Mary have operated - and sold farm fresh eggs - for the past seven years from their Turning Point health food store here. But last week the inspector came calling from the Department of Health and handed them a cease and desist order. The store can no longer sell eggs because they are not federally inspected.

It was enough to hard boil Mermuys who is long time advocate of good farming methods and pesticide free crops. The couple want to meet with the Minister of Agriculture over the issue of too many rules and will continue to give away locally grown eggs - at $2.75 a dozen - for the price of the carton.

"We get our eggs from three local farmers who have been gathering eggs like people have been for the last few thousands years,'' said Mermuys. "But there are so many regulations now, we're being told to stop."

However, while the Turning Point can't sell the eggs, the rules allow the farmer to sell the same eggs at the farm gate or at a farmers' market. The Guardian sought government clarification but did not receive any information.

The Turning Point operators are not alone. The Department has also stepped in to stop uninspected eggs from being sold in other local country stores around the province and even senior care facilities as well.

"We had a meeting last week with the officials and they said if we wanted to open a federally inspected facility, we could continue to sell,'' said Mary. "They even said there was federal money available."

The health food store sells about 50 dozen a week and have no intention of obeying the health order. They say they regret having to break the law, but insist too many small farm producers are getting pushed to the wall with an abundance of rules and regulations that go far beyond fair play. They also have a public petition in their store filling up with names.

The Guardian contacted the Health Department but was advised any official dealing with the matter was unavailable until Tuesday.

Organizations: Turning Point, Health Department

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Recent comments

  • James
    February 13, 2014 - 13:37

    Good for you! proud of you, I live in Ont., formally from Cape Breton. Glad to see there are still people out there with enough guts to stand up for our rights against the Government...... :) Thank you, thank you, thank you...........

  • Justin
    June 22, 2011 - 21:54

    Way to go Mermuys. I am going to make a special trip just to support them! Its mind blowing that anyone could think that the "inspected" massive factory farms which packs chickens together inhumanely and without concern for sanitation or over-medication can pass inspection while the eggs of chickens raised in a natural traditional way are deemed risky. Pathetic. Keep up the resistance Mermuys!

  • Jane Pitre
    June 22, 2011 - 19:54

    I am trying hard to buy locally grown and produced food. I refuse to buy meat from our supermarkets. The conditions that the animals live in makes me shudder when coming from the big manufacturers. If people want to buy and consume eggs from local farmers or stores then I hope we all just continue to do so anyway we can! Canada Inspection I agree with but this is ridiculous! Everyone needs to start voicing their opinion. Maybe we need a facebook page where people can sign a petition and send it right off to our ...lack of common sense...government!

    • Myles K
      June 23, 2011 - 23:27

      2 thumbs up ...Way to go !

  • faeriedust
    June 22, 2011 - 14:37

    Same thing here in Ontario. Canada Food Inspection Agency comes down on the small farms, who for the record, have the best produce, meat, dairy and eggs in the province.. because they are a small scale, family run farm and not able to pay the wicked amounts of money required to be "accredited * so to speak. Those eggs we get in the gross-ery store? Not near as healthy or tasty as an egg that came right from the chicken that very morning. Why do you think they now have eggs with "added" omega 3 and 6, or extra B12? Those chickens are not getting these vital minerals and essential fatty acids from their natural diet.. hard to do that when they do not see the light of day. :( I get my eggs from the gross-ery store because frankly, I don't really have a choice in my area. If you can get them from a farmer, do so. CFIA has it's place.. inspecting the crap that comes in from other countries..

  • saherbal
    June 22, 2011 - 09:27

    @Garth are you kidding? The federal Gov. is trying to regulate organic farmers out of the market.Thus leaving us to only factory farms. When was the last time you got sick off free range eggs? I can say i never have used to collect them every day.It's the big factory farms that need regulating not the organic farmers,they care about their products. Factory farmers on the other hand care about their bottom line.Do some research will you there is a whole world of difference between the 2. I think this is just ridiculous .

  • AJ
    June 21, 2011 - 16:52

    POWER TO THE PEOPLE

  • Sylvia
    June 21, 2011 - 16:27

    I used to live in a farming community and bought all my eggs from a neighbouring farm. I never had a problem with those eggs. They were excellent. We're being ruled and regulated to the point of insanity. Good for Mary and Chris. I would have no problem buying eggs from them and if we lived closer to them, I definitely would buy their eggs.

  • Vonlevander
    June 21, 2011 - 15:40

    No tortured chickens in factory farms, no chemicals, supporting local farmers - the Turning Point gets my business. The PEI government is all glossy posters and empty slogans - when they actually have an opportunity to step in and do anything to promote local farmers, organic, or anything else progressive, they blow it.

  • speedy
    June 21, 2011 - 14:52

    By the way if you are coming into Charlottetown anytime soon please bring me 6 of those cartons.

  • Citizen
    June 21, 2011 - 13:28

    This is crazy. Just friggin' crazy. We've got to stop letting our government run our lives. Up next you'll get fined in your own home if you don't wash your hands after making burger pattys. I only eat free range eggs and I eat them three or four times a week, and surprise- I'm strong and healthy. I suggest you all try em'.

  • Robert Pendergast
    June 21, 2011 - 12:11

    I have been tasting a lot of the eggs available for sale here on the island. I would have to say that the farm eggs we have been getting from small producers are by far superior in freshness, flavor and performance in the kitchen in pretty much all manner of egg recipes. Perhaps the government should be looking into ways of encouraging more islanders to grow some of their own produce and enjoy the health benefits. Still lots of time to put in a small garden folks!

  • educated
    June 21, 2011 - 11:56

    I think the government regulations served a purpose but have taken things too far because commercial farming has gone to far. With industrial farming also came unhealthy practises that has led to desease in production and in the enviornment. I get my eggs from a family farm because they know the chickens, they know when they were hatched and who lays what. People need to realise that large food packing organizations with large equipement pose a greater risk than the little family farm. Their sheer size is their problem its not managable or sustainable. I have the choice to get eggs from chickens that see the sushine rich in Vit D and eat green grass full of other nutrients or commercially locked two in a cage fed hormones and anitibiotics to off set their living environments, I know what my choice would be, there are no government agency's keeping foreign food out of this country, one need only read labels to realise that. CONSUMERS HAVE THE LOUDEST VOICE and it needs to be used to promote the production of LOCALLY grown HEALTHY food for our families.

  • Two Sides on Every Coin
    June 21, 2011 - 11:23

    Let me begin by saying, I am all for them selling the eggs without a federal inspection! As we all know we have to many scholars running around with a degree and a book of rules without enough knowledge,sense or ability to give an opinion or answer that they can not get from the given set of rules. On the other side of the coin Are they( the turning point) letting the consumer make an informed decision to eat non federally inspected eggs. IE is it advertised!

  • plu ca change
    June 21, 2011 - 09:38

    Since they aren't selling a grocery item now, they will have to charge GST and PST on those cartons.

  • AJ
    June 21, 2011 - 09:30

    What a bunch of crap, keep on selling your cartons. I eat two farm fresh eggs every day (raw), never had a problem. It's also interesting that a farmer can sell eggs at a market but cannot serve the same eggs at a bed and breakfast, were's the sense in that, there all going to be eaten? If you crack an egg and it smells or looks funny, don't eat it!

  • Dan
    June 21, 2011 - 07:23

    So can drug dealers not sell the drugs, but sell the baggies they come in, then just give away the drugs to avoid prosecution.

    • neil
      June 21, 2011 - 13:21

      Dan, It is not legal to give drugs away either, so your example doesn't work. They can legally sell empty little baggies though.

  • agitator
    June 21, 2011 - 05:26

    That's nothing, anyone remember when a can of anything carbonated got a $1000.00 fine! "The uncommon grocer" remembers.

  • A City Man
    June 20, 2011 - 23:20

    Well folks I believe your eggs are just as fresh and just as clean as Sobeys and Atlantic Superstore, I would have no problem using them,The big guys consider you a threat to their bottom line so they cry to the government and the government acts

  • Don MacKenzie
    June 20, 2011 - 23:14

    The government is working to drive small businesses out of business while protecting large businesses. It makes no sense that one couple cannot sell a product due to the rules, but a farmers market down the road can sell the same product despite the rules. It is obvious for whatever reason the provincial government does not want small independent businesses to survive.

  • Fed Up
    June 20, 2011 - 22:14

    "The Guardian sought government clarification but did not receive any information. " Now I know this story can't be true, this government always answers the questions they are asked. NOT! Support these folk!

  • Good for you Chris and Mary
    June 20, 2011 - 22:10

    Way to go, keep on doing what your doing. Selling healthy pesticide free produce. Hope you attract more business now.

  • speedy
    June 20, 2011 - 22:03

    I wonder who or what group or what corporation or what BIG STORE LOBBIED THE GOVERNMENT FOR THIS TO HAPPEN. This world and especially our Island gets more crazy every day. God help us and the next generation.

  • One Proude Islander But not Always
    June 20, 2011 - 20:37

    Hat,s off to you folks....Hard to be a Proude Islander sometimes...No wait ...seems like a lot of the time these days. I see this as more big corporation greed then a health issue....

    • Garth Staples
      June 21, 2011 - 06:12

      So there should be no food inspection programme in Canada? Sure would save taxpayers a lot of money---------------until people started showing up at hospital emergency rooms. Unsafe food from foreign countries will continue to be a problem. Do we want it to be so in Canada?Hats off to Canada Inspection.

    • James
      June 23, 2011 - 13:29

      Garth, there is a difference between inspecting foreign foods coming in and regulating family farms into the ground. They are literally making it impossible for family farms to sell. I cannot contact a farm directly and ask them to sell to me. They are OBLIGED to refuse, by law, unless they are going through a government inspection facility. And the costs for doing so are prohibitive for anyone not doing feed-lot farming. The government is trying to keep people from competing with big-agri business, because if people know how low the quality of what they are getting is, they might stop buying it.