BRAND INTEGRITY Mark of 'egg'cellence New industry-wide initiative assures Canadian consumers of the quality of their eggs BY SEAN C. TARRY CANADIANS already trust the quality and freshness of the food they eat every day. But a recent Egg Quality Assurance (EQA) initiative launched by Egg Farmers of Canada (EFC) sets out to prove it with a mark of certification right on the carton. Canadian Retailer sat down with EFC's CEO Tim Lambert to talk about the EQA initiative, its objectives, the benefits to both consumers and retailers, and how retailers who sell eggs can make sure they proudly highlight and celebrate the exceptional quality of their eggs with the EQA mark. Canadian Retailer: What exactly is the EQA initiative and what's involved in recognizing eggs under this mark? Tim Lambert: For years we've had on-farm programs, like the Start Clean-Stay Clean and Animal Care Programs, that ensure the quality of the eggs produced and the welfare of the animals. These programs have been highly effective and have evolved as we put continuous effort into building on public trust with the Canadian consumer. The EQA program is about formalizing what we've already been doing under one umbrella quality assurance program that showcases high-quality Canadian eggs and the commitment of Canadian farmers to deliver the best eggs pos- 46 | CANADIAN RETAILER | FOOD & GROCERY sible. The certification is a recognizable mark on the egg cartons themselves and assures for the consumer buying them that a) the eggs were produced by Canadian egg farm families, and b) they've been produced to the highest possible food safety and animal welfare standards. CR: What kind of process is involved in gaining certification from the EQA program? TL: To gain certification, every farm is inspected to meet the standards of each national program, which are based on best practices and scientific input. In addition, our programs are audited by third party service providers to make sure that we are in fact delivering to those standards.