Aug. 5, 2005 5:29 p.m.
Sometimes you meet a person who has an idea or invention or product they came up with all by themselves, and you just scratch your head and say, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Lots of people have great ideas, but very few act on them, and only a small percentage of THOSE people survive the arduous process of taking their "eureka moment" and making it a reality.
Brad Parker is a guy who had a vision, and acted on it. He saw a story on how hundreds of people die from salmonella poisoning after eating bad eggs. The story detailed how some unscrupulous egg salesmen took old eggs from old cartons, washed them, and repackaged them in new cartons, with consumers none the wiser.
Brad's uncle had a chicken farm. He understood the industry, and realized there was a solution.
He spent six years researching and investigating, pitching his cause and raising money, meeting with people from a wide range of industries to sell them on a simple yet potentially earth-changing process.
Parker's idea? Use lasers to etch a freshness date and trace ability code right into the shell of every egg. So...you threw away the carton your eggs came in? No problem. Someone shuffled eggs from old cartons to new ones? Won't work any more. Now you can know exactly when every egg in your fridge is no longer safe to eat, AND if you have any questions about the egg's history, or there's some sort of recall, you can type the shell's serial number into a box on a website and find out all you need to know.
Parker's company is called EggFusion. He's set up equipment at a couple of egg processing plants... and is cranking out thousands of dozens of eggs every week for 600 stores from Maine to New Jersey.
But that's just the beginning.
He's signed a deal with a major grocery chain for hundreds of thousands of dozens more eggs to be etched and sold in the east, and is talking to companies across the country in an effort to expand his technology nationwide.
Some may resist the idea of change in their fridge. If they have doubts about the egg, they can just throw it away. And then there's the question of what ELSE may soon show up on the shells, such as ads for soda or orange juice or a major motion picture every time you want to scramble some breakfast. Parker understands this, and insists any advertisements would be balanced by public service messages, notices of community events, charitable causes. He's also convinced that people won't mind a little on-egg messaging when they realize they also have safety and security in their hands... a permanent, tamper-proof guarantee of the pedigree and freshness of their food.
The process is cool to watch. The eggs never slow down between the washer and the packaging area. They're lasered right on the belt, etched as they roll by at 225 feet a minute. Each line of text is cut into the shell in 39 milliseconds. A dozen eggs are tagged in two seconds, two cases every minute.
I never realized how big the egg business is. 81 billion are produced and distributed in the U.S. every year... 55 billion of those sold at groceries and deli's... and America represents just nine percent of the global market. Over a TRILLION eggs are produced worldwide on an annual basis.
The other cool thing about Parker's company is they can control the lasering by computer. Production lines in plants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina and anywhere else can be monitored or adjusted from EggFusion's headquarters in Colorado.
The company is developing their own lasers so they won't have to rely on other companies overseas, building smaller, lighter, less expensive equipment, and are also lobbying government officials, hoping their technology, freshness, and traceability codes will become the law of the land.
It could make Parker and his partners a lot of money. It could change the look of our egg trays forever. And it could ruffle more than a few feathers.
I refuse to pay for more advertisers to assult my food products. I will not buy eggs that are written on either by lasers or ink... if I want eggs decorated- I'll buy egg-dying kits and do them myself.
Thanks for the heads up:
It doesn't bother me to have the eggs lasered. I find myself wondering if eggs are good when I throw away the carton! A little advertisement on the eggs is entertaining actually! Yep, I wish I had thought of that.
Thanks for reminding us that our neat ideas can really do something important...
I'm glad you brought this story to our attention. The invention of EggFusion is capitalism at its best! We don't need more government regulation to protect us from dishonest producers; we simply need a man to see a problem and then work to offer up a solution. Brilliant! Great job, Brad Parker!
I like the idea of having born-on dates on my eggs. I also like the idea that Brad Parker and his company are just another egg-ample of opportunity through American ingenuity.
Egg-cuse me, I couldn't resist.
Rick- - -Now that was one interesting, eggcelent blog! Mr. Parker is one smart egghead.
Rick, after that report, it appears you have used up your pun quota for the next two years.
Seriously, we enjoy your blogs, keep them coming.
Paul & Billie
Glen St. Mary, Fl.
Just a thank you for your excellent reporting! But I have to ask this: from airline crash to eggshells? What will FOX do with you next?
Keep up the great work!
Red Bluff, CA