One of the things that I am often asked is where my eggs go when they leave the farm. The short answer is Burnbrae Farms grading station in Calgary, but there is so much more to the story. I decided to see for myself, so I trekked down to Calgary, where I met so many of the great people who work hard to make sure that you have farm-fresh, local eggs in your grocery store every day. Burnbrae Farms is a family owned and operated company that has been producing eggs for over 70 years. They have their own farms in several Canadian provinces, operate grading stations, and sell eggs and egg products to major grocery store chains, restaurants, bakeries and industrial companies throughout Canada.
My eggs begin their journey when they are picked up on Wednesday each week. Every pallet is tagged with the farm name, barn number and date the eggs were collected. I love Burnbrae’s new truck signage – Eggs for Life! and the new mascot, Greg the Egg.
The eggs are loaded straight from my egg cooler into one of Burnbrae’s refrigerated trucks, and they make the 4 hour trip down to Calgary. At the docking station, they are unloaded and put into a receiving cooler until the next day, where they begin the grading process.
Obviously, these aren’t my eggs, since I have brown eggs, but I couldn’t coordinate the timing to actually view my eggs moving through the process. In Canada, government regulations require eggs to be washed, so that is the first step. From there, they travel through a blower to dry the eggs before entering the candling booth.
Candling the eggs is an important step, which can identify cracked eggs, especially those that aren’t easily visible. The strong light can also penetrate the egg shell to see the interior quality. Any misshapen eggs or eggs that don’t meet the strong quality-control protocols are removed. You, at home, can simulate the candling booth by holding you egg against a strong flashlight. It’s a fun little science experiment to do with the eggs. By turning the eggs quickly, you can see the egg yolk move.
Food safety is the number one concern for Burnbrae Farms. During the tour, I had the opportunity to meet Jessica Moreau, Burnbrae’s Quality Assurance Inspector, who measures for Ph levels in the water and verifies candling procedures, to ensure that the eggs are meeting all necessary criteria. CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) also ensures that all rigorous standards are met. Cleanliness in the plant is an important step. I met Greg Kennedy, their Production Manager, who explained to me that every day there is a 6-8 hour shift just to clean the machines, and keep the floors and coolers clean.
Once through the candling booth, the eggs are weighed and then travel down to the packaging area, where they are sorted by size (weight) and transferred to the cartons. Eggs really are the perfect food – they don’t need to be processed in any way. The grading process is really to ensure cleanliness and quality, but nature provides the perfect packaging!!
Once the eggs finish the packaging procedure, they are stacked and moved to a separate, finished product cooler ready to be shipped to stores. My eggs usually reach the stores by Friday afternoon, which is amazing! Here’s a picture of how MY eggs look in their packaging!!
The Calgary plant grades eggs from over 70 farms thoughout Alberta and Saskatchewan – that’s a lot of eggs!
Once you purchase your eggs, store them in the refrigerator. All egg cartons show a best-before date, which is a guideline. Properly refrigerated eggs may keep longer than the date indicates, but the freshness decreases, and I would encourage you to use them for baking.
Check out all the great recipes on EFA’s website, or visit Burnbrae’s website at www.burnbraefarms.com. Their site also has recipes, but you can learn so much more about eggs and egg farming.