Lunds, Byerly's pull Sparboe eggs

  • Article by: MIKE HUGHLETT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 21, 2011 - 4:25 PM

Lunds and Byerly's supermarkets joined other retailers in stocking eggs from other vendors. Any shortages should be temporary.

Two more grocery chains, Lunds and Byerly's, have pulled Sparboe Farms eggs from their stores after the egg producer was the subject of an undercover video about animal abuse.

The two Twin Cities supermarkets, both owned by Lund Food Holdings, join Minneapolis-based Target, which on Friday opted to pull Sparboe Farms eggs from its stores nationwide.

Although the action put a temporary crimp on supplies at some stores, eggs are generally available throughout the Twin Cities.

Lunds and Byerly's on Sunday were stocking their shelves with Crystal Farms eggs to replace eggs previously supplied by Sparboe, but which didn't carry the Sparboe brand, said Aaron Sorenson, a Lund Food spokesman.

"We were clearly concerned by what we saw in the video," Sorenson said.

The animal rights group Mercy for Animals on Friday released a video shot at Sparboe facilities that showed crowded cages common to the egg industry, but among other things also portrayed workers abusing hens.

Sorenson said Lunds has not decided yet what to do with the Sparboe eggs.

Sparboe could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Fast-food giant McDonald's announced Friday it was jettisoning Litchfield-based Sparboe as a supplier. In a media campaign accompanying its video, Mercy for Animals specifically singled out McDonald's as an end-user of Sparboe eggs.

The group said Saturday it had also sent a letter to Target asking it to stop selling eggs from Sparboe. Sorenson said Lunds didn't receive such a letter, but decided to pull Sparboe products after seeing the Mercy for Animals video.

Sorenson said another factor in pulling Sparboe eggs was a warning letter issued to Sparboe last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA, after inspecting five Sparboe plants earlier this year, including one in Litchfield, found that the company had serious violations of salmonella prevention regulations, including unsatisfactory rodent control. However, no cases of salmonella have been linked to Sparboe plants.

Customers at the St. Paul Midway SuperTarget were greeted on Saturday with a sign saying "eggs are not available at this location." Other Targets also were short of eggs; the company told the Star Tribune it hoped to have another egg vendor by Wednesday. At least some Targets, however, are carrying some eggs.

Shoppers at the Edina SuperTarget on Sunday also were greeted by a sign saying eggs were not available, but the store in fact had Eggland's Best eggs in stock. Target officials could not be reached for comment Sunday.

The Edina Byerly's appeared fully stocked with eggs, and Sorenson said eggs are available at all Lunds and Byerly's outlets. Cub Foods, the Twin Cities' largest grocery chain, is not supplied by Sparboe.

Eden Prairie-based Supervalu, which owns Cub, said Saturday it will no longer sell Sparboe eggs through its wholesale operations, which serve about 2,000 grocers nationwide.

A manager at a local Rainbow Foods outlet said Twin Cities Rainbow stores are not supplied by Sparboe. The Wal-Mart in Bloomington, meantime, was stocked Sunday with eggs made by Hillandale Farms, one of the nation's largest egg producers.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003

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