Selling home raised chicken eggs : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

If I sell home raised chicken eggs to someone and they claim the eggs made them sick, am I a candidate fora lawsuit? Even if nothing was wrong with the eggs? I raise free range chickens and would like to sell the eggs but I don't want to create any problems for myself. I would appreciate some comments.

-- Marla Vales (, February 11, 2001



In this sue crazy world you can be sued for anything. I'd sell to friends first or maybe a small country store. I've seen signs that said "Country Fresh" eggs at locale farmers market. In Shelby theres a place called NO.3 Egg house. In 30 years I've never heard of her getting sued for fresh eggs. If I were near you I'd be a candiate to buy some. My best advice is to Test The Water then Jump In if it seems calm.

-- Kenneth in N.C. (, February 12, 2001.

You can get product liability insurance, but in your case, I doubt it would be worth the cost. Unless they lived exclusively on your eggs and stored and cooked them in an extremely sterile environment, I would think it would just about be impossible for anyone to be able to prove your eggs were the cause of a specific illness. However, you might consider having some stickers made up the effect the eggs should be kept refrigerated, used within 30-days of purchase and properly cooked.

Several years ago the FDA (I think) issued regulations which said no commercial egg servers (e.g., restaurants) could sell eggs which had not be thoroughly cooked until both the whites and yokes were solid due to a concern about salmonella. No running scrambled, poached or sunny-side up. After just about everyone stopped laughing so hard their sides hurt, they withdrew the regulations.

I think though, situations like this justify legislation under consideration that if you sue someone and lose, you pay all of the court and attorney costs (frivilous lawsuits). Right now federal prisoners can sue over just about anything (e.g., frequency of showers or too cool of a water temperature being cruel and inhumane treatment). If nothing else, it gets them out of prison for a couple of days for the hearings. Legislation proposed was to impose a $50 filing fee. I don't think that is unreasonable as each of their suits cost the federal government thousands of dollars.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (, February 12, 2001.

I sell eggs from the house and home baked goods at farm markets & festivals and by delivery, also garden produce, and, this fall we'll be selling butchered lamb and often wonder the same thing. I sold pies to my insurance agent this year and he tried to tell me about all the liability I was setting myself up for if someone got a piece of glass in one of the pies, or if they slipped and fell on their way into the house to buy the eggs. I let it go in one ear and out the other because I thought he was trying to sell me more insurance. I just ordered a book called the "Legal Guide for Direct Farm Marketing" by Neil D. Hamilton for $20 from Growing for Market at 800- 307-8949. It supposedly covers questions about liability, insurance coverage, labor laws, advertising claims, zoning, pesticide drift, inspections, food safety issues, produce, value-added products, meat, poultry, eggs and dairy. I'll let you know if it is worthwhile when I receive it. I've tried to get my questions answered by our Wisconsin Dept. of Ag & Consumer Protection, but spend hours on the phone and get passed from one person to another. Their website is horrendous to navigate! and, they seem to want to rule, regulate and inspect everything. Not practical for me. We just try to be really clean and careful and if we wouldn't eat it or feed it to family and friends, we don't sell it.

-- Rose Marie Wild (, February 12, 2001.

There was a book advertised in Countryside magazine last year that addressed this type of subject. It was priced at about $20, a bargain if you are going into this. Your local library or small business center may be of help also.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, February 12, 2001.

I've had no problems selling my eggs at work. I do put the date on the carton of the day I put the first egg in. That way, people that buy my eggs know that no egg is older than the date on the carton. I know, it's a matter of people trusting people (what a concept!). But, my egg-selling venture is such small potatoes that everyone knows me anyway; I don't think lawsuits are a probability. But, how about FDA regulations? Been wanting to know that myself if I ever do go big time. dh in nm

-- debra in nm (, February 12, 2001.

You could get liability insurance. The other option is put food preparation information on the label of the carton so that you cover yourself.

-- amy (, February 12, 2001.

Been selling them for years. No problem! Of course, I also have a rifle/pistol range in the backyard, and cultivate the opinion that some neighbors have - ie. that I am a half bubble off of plumb! Nonetheless - do not be too apprehensive. Most folks will be so happy to get really good tasting eggs that they wouldn't even think of giving you any grief, even if they did get "sick". Of course, if they did, you'd have to kill them, and be somewhat careful about where you hid the bodies! GL!

-- Brad (, February 14, 2001.

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