Jerry Kopel

Unsafe Eggs, Secretary of State

By Jerry Kopel

Nov. 29, 2008


Do you eat eggs at restaurants? Of course you do, even if they are part of a main dish. But do you know they might NOT have been inspected because of how they were delivered?

This is the main loophole in the present Colorado Egg Law which was researched by the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) Sunset review staff for a bill to be introduced in 2009.

DORA reports the biggest consumer safety improvement needed relates to transportation of eggs from the wholesaler to the retailer. The recommendation was to "expand the sanitation and temperature requirements for vehicles used to transport eggs in all stages of the delivery process".

Presently, there is little the commissioner of agriculture can do on the transportation of eggs from the dealer to restaurants, institutions or other dealers, as examples.

"Public protection can be compromised" states DORA "because eggs can be contaminated, causing illness among consumers". There is also no protection required from extreme heat or freezing in transportation.

DORA also wants the commissioner to have control over rule making authority for transportation and processing of eggs and statutory authority to access vehicles used to transport eggs, in order to discover and halt conditions that could harm consumers.

According to DORA, Colorado poultry egg producers provided 1.8 billion eggs in 2006, exporting 540 million. We imported 18 million of the 125 million eaten by Coloradans annually. Eggs imported had to get here by what? Transportation.

In 1933, Colorado enacted its first egg law to

(1) prevent the sale of eggs unfit for human consumption

(2) prevent fraud and deception in egg sales, and

(3) promote and develop the egg industry.

While revised since 1933, the goals remain constant.

Are bad eggs being found by present inspections either at the wholesale or retail level? Yes. Stop sale notices have more than tripled over a two year period. And that is without inspecting transportation. According to DORA:

Initial inspection: "The inspector selects random samples of eggs from the same lot ... If a lot contains 30 dozen eggs, 100 eggs will be inspected. Seventy-two of the 100 eggs must meet grade AA quality standards".

Full inspection: "The number of eggs inspected is expanded. If the lot does not pass a full inspection, a stop sale notice is issued to the lot".

Stop sale notices have jumped from 109 in fiscal 2004-05 to 379 in 2006-07 following implementation of a risk basis management system based on previous violations.

* * *

By the time you read this, Gov. Bill Ritter may have chosen the new secretary of state from among 20 applicants.

There's a lot more than elections and election reform programs on the plate for the incoming secretary, such as:

The Colorado Corporations Code, the Uniform Commercial Code, the Bingo and Raffles law, the Uniform Limited Partnership Act, limited liability companies, commissioning of Notaries Public, the Charitable Solicitations Act.

In my opinion, the new secretary ought to consider moving Notary Public and Bingo and Raffles out from under his or her department.

Reading priority should be the May 2008 performance audit out-sourced by the state auditor to Clifton Gunderson Certified Public Accountants and Consultants. In that report you will find future promises made by then-Secretary Mike Coffman.

Notaries Public were assigned to the Secretary of State long before the establishment of the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) where teams of skilled investigators are available. The present location of the occupation in Dept. of State is obsolete. Notaries fit in nicely with Real Estate Brokers under DORA where their notary services are necessary by statute.

On Nov 4, 1958, Colorado voters by 244,929 to 235,482 adopted amendments to Section 2 of Article 18 of the state constitution establishing bingo and raffles as legitimate gambling operations.

From then until now, the Secretary of State has had both licensing and enforcement duties over bingo operations. However, all other state-permitted gambling supervision are now in the Dept. of Revenue.

Article 18, Section 2 would have to be amended in 2010 to remove licensing authority from the secretary of state and instead allow the legislature to determine the best location. But enforcement duties could be moved in the 2009 legislative session.

House Bill 1273 in 2008 by Rep. Rafael Gallegos (D) Antonito, and Sen. Chris Romer (D) Denver, was signed by Gov. Ritter April 3. It provides for meetings between the State Secretary and the Executive Director of Revenue to consider:

"The desirability and practicability of transferring the responsibility for enforcement, licensing, or both ... from the Secretary of State to the Dept. of Revenue."

Their report is supposed to be completed on or before Dec. 31, 2008, and provided to House and Senate members of State Affairs and Finance.

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.)

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