H. B. 4454
(By Delegates Beach, Williams and Evans)
[Passed March 12, 1998; in effect ninety days from passage.]
AN ACT to amend and reenact article ten-a, chapter nineteen of the
code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one,
as amended, relating to creating the West Virginia egg
marketing law of 1998; providing a purpose; definitions;
requiring permits and registration; exemptions; container
requirements; standards, grades and weight classes; acts which
are prohibited; requiring certain labels and furnishing of
invoices; advertising required for certain quality eggs;
powers and duties of the commissioner of agriculture;
requirements of egg handling facilities; authorizing entry of
facilities by commissioner; providing civil and criminal
penalties for violations; requiring commissioner to cooperate
with other entities; and prohibiting commissioner from
divulging trade secrets.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article ten-a, chapter nineteen of the code of West
Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be
amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 10A. THE WEST VIRGINIA EGG MARKETING LAW OF 1998.
§19-10A-1. Purpose; and short title.
(a) The intent of this article is to protect and promote the
public health and general welfare and to prevent fraud and
deception in the production, processing, sale and distribution of
eggs. This article provides for the registration of business
houses engaged in selling, trading or traffic of eggs; establishes
standards for the grading, classification and marketing of eggs;
provides a penalty for the failure to comply with the provisions of
this article; and provides for other purposes. This article shall
be known as "The West Virginia Egg Marketing Law of 1998". All
provisions of this code in conflict with this article are repealed.
(b) Except where otherwise indicated, it is the intent of the
Legislature that this article substantially conform with the
federal laws and regulations promulgated under the auspices of the
United States secretary of agriculture and the United States
secretary of health and human services in order to provide movement
of eggs in intrastate and interstate commerce with a minimum of
(a) "Ambient temperature" means the atmospheric temperature
surrounding or encircling shell eggs.
(b) "Candle" means to determine the interior quality based on
the use of a candling light as defined in federal standards adopted
in section ten of this article.
(c) "Case" means a container that is not a carton and that is
used to pack eggs for distribution or sale to the consumer. A case
may contain either loose or cartoned eggs.
(d) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of agriculture for
the state of West Virginia or his or her duly authorized agent.
(e) "Container" means any carton, basket, case, cart, pallet
or other receptacle.
(f) "Consumer" means any person using eggs for food and shall
include restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, hospitals, state
institutions and any other establishment serving food to be
consumed or produced on the premises, but shall not include the
armed forces or any other federal agency or institution.
(g) "Denatured" means rendering unfit for human food by
treatment or the addition of a foreign substance as approved by the
United States department of agriculture (USDA), agriculture
marketing service (AMS), administrator.
(h) "Distributor" means a person or firm engaged in the
business of buying eggs from producers or other persons on his or
her own account and selling or transferring eggs to other distributors or retailers. A distributor further means a person or
firm engaged in producing eggs from his or her own flock and
marketing of any portion of this production on a graded basis.
(i) "Egg" means the product of the domesticated chicken hen or
any other eggs offered for sale for human consumption.
(j) "Embargo" means a written stop sale order issued by the
commissioner of agriculture prohibiting the sale, use of or
transportation of eggs in any manner until the embargo is released
by the commissioner.
(k) "General embargo" means a statewide written stop sale
order issued by the commissioner of agriculture prohibiting the
sale, use of or transportation of eggs in any manner until the
embargo is released by the commissioner.
(l) "Graded egg" means an egg which is classified in
accordance with the standards established by the United States
department of agriculture.
(m) "Inedible" and "unfit for human food" means eggs described
as black rots, yellow rots, white rots, mixed rots (addled eggs),
sour eggs, eggs with green whites, eggs with stuck yolks, moldy
eggs, musty eggs, eggs showing blood rings, eggs containing embryo
chicks (at or beyond the blood ring state), and any eggs that are
adulterated as that term is defined in the federal food, drug and
(n) "Packer" means any person who grades, sizes, candles or
packs eggs for the purpose of resale.
(o) "Person" means any partnership, association, business
trust, corporation or any organized group of persons, whether
incorporated or not.
(p) "Possession" means the fact of possession by any person
engaged in the sale of a commodity is prima facie evidence that the
commodity is for sale.
(q) "Processor" means a person who operates a plant for the
purpose of breaking eggs for freezing, drying or commercial food
(r) "Producer" means any person owning laying hens who markets
(s) "Repacker" means any person who packs previously graded
and packed shell eggs for resale.
(t) "Retailer" means any person who sells eggs directly to the
(u) "Sell" means to offer for sale, expose for sale, have in
possession for sale, exchange, barter or trade.
§19-10A-3. Permits and registration.
(a) The commissioner shall issue an "Egg Distributor Permit"
to every person distributing eggs in West Virginia. Each egg
distributor shall apply to the commissioner of agriculture for this
permit on forms provided by the commissioner at least thirty days prior to distributing eggs in West Virginia and shall renew his or
her permit annually at least thirty days prior to the expiration of
his or her current permit.
(b) For the purposes of financing the administration and
enforcement of this article, the state of West Virginia, through
the West Virginia department of agriculture shall collect an
inspection and permit fee from the distributor first introducing
the eggs into West Virginia trade channels.
(c) The commissioner shall set an inspection fee and annual
permit fee by legislative rule for the distribution of all shell
eggs processed or sold in the state of West Virginia.
(d) All fees, interest, penalties or other moneys collected by
the commissioner under the provisions of this article shall be paid
into a special account and be expended upon the order of the
commissioner for the purpose of the enforcement and administration
of this article.
(e) An egg distributor shall conspicuously post his or her
permit in the place of business to which it applies. The permit
year is twelve months or any fraction thereof beginning the first
day of July and ending the thirtieth day of June of each year.
(f) No permit is transferable. Each physical location where
eggs are stored for distribution shall have a separate egg
(g) Producers exempted by the commissioner by legislative rule
shall register with the West Virginia department of agriculture but
are exempt from paying the permit or inspection fee pursuant to the
provisions of section four of this article.
(h) The provisions of this article are applicable to all
retailers, wholesalers, packers and distributors of eggs.
(i) The commissioner has the power to revoke or suspend the
certificate for failure to comply with the provisions of this
article and refuse to issue a certificate to willful violators.
Any person marketing eggs which he or she has produced is
exempt from the provisions of section seven of this article except
that carton labeling shall be according to legislative rule,
cartons shall be clean and free of debris and eggs shall be held
under refrigeration according to legislative rule. The
commissioner may exempt small producers from portions of this
article by legislative rule.
§19-10A-5. Container requirements.
No distributor may market eggs unless there is clearly
designated on the container the consumer grade and size or weight
class established in accordance with the provisions of this article
and the eggs shall conform to the designated grade and size or
weight class, except when sold on contract to an agency of the
United States government.
§19-10A-6. Prohibited acts.
(a) If an authorized representative of the West Virginia
department of agriculture determines, after an inspection, that any
lot of eggs is in violation of this article, the representative may
issue an embargo under the provisions of section ten of this
article. An embargo shall specify the reason for its issuance and
prohibit the sale, use of or transportation of eggs in any manner
until the embargo is released by the commissioner.
The commissioner shall determine and assess violations of this
article to the packer, repacker, distributor or retailer.
(b) No person, firm or corporation may sell, traffic in or
deliver to the retail or consuming trade, any eggs that are:
(1) Loss, inedible, denatured or leaker eggs;
(2) Not refrigerated; or
(3) Mislabeled or deceptively advertised.
(c) No person may sell eggs for resale to consumers below
"U.S. Consumer Grade B".
(d) No person may prepare, pack, place, deliver for shipment,
deliver for sale, load, ship, transport, offer for sale in bulk
containers or advertise by sign, placard or otherwise any eggs for
human consumption which are mislabeled or deceptive.
(e) No person or retailer may repack eggs in cartons which
were previously used and labeled by a packer, except as outlined in
(f) No person may distribute eggs without a valid egg
(g) No person may store or transport eggs unless held under
refrigeration as outlined in legislative rule.
(h) No person may offer for sale or expose for sale shell eggs
that are in containers that are dirty, broken and are free from
(a) Any container or subcontainer in which eggs are marketed
to consumers shall bear on the exterior of the container the
(1) The identity of the packer by registry of USDA plant
number or by state permit number or name and address of the packer,
distributor, retailer or repacker;
(2) The correct grade and size or weight classification;
(3) The term "EGGS";
(4) The quantity of eggs per retail unit (i.e. one dozen,
eighteen count, etc.) or dozens per case when packing loose eggs
for institutional use or an accurate statement of the quantity of
the contents in terms of numerical count;
(5) The words "keep refrigerated" in a plain and conspicuous
manner on each container or consumer receptacle of shell eggs;
(6) Use by or expiration date; and
(7) Additional labeling according to legislative rule.
(b) Loose eggs shall be labeled according to legislative rule.
§19-10A-8. Invoice requirements.
(a) Every person, firm or corporation selling eggs to a
retailer or manufacturer shall furnish an invoice showing the size
and quality of the eggs according to the standards prescribed by
this article together with the name and address of the person by
whom the eggs were sold and date of the sale. This invoice shall
be retained for one year.
(b) The commissioner of agriculture is authorized to examine
the invoices and such other records needed to determine the cause
and place of any violation of this article.
(a) All eggs offered for sale at retail shall be plainly
marked as to grade and size with letters not less than three- eighths inch in height.
(b) All eggs advertised or displayed for sale for human food
at a given price shall be advertised or displayed in the manner
adopted by legislative rule.
(c) Restaurants, hotels, delicatessens and other eating places
using eggs below "A" quality shall advertise this fact to the
public according to legislative rule.
§19-10A-10. Powers and duties of the commissioner.
(a) The commissioner shall by legislative rule establish
standards for the grading, classification and marketing of shell eggs bought and sold by any person, firm or corporation in the
state of West Virginia. These standards shall conform to, on date
of the sale to the consumer, the minimum standards promulgated by
the U. S. department of agriculture as defined in the "United
States Standards, Grades and Weight Classes for Shell Eggs",
authorized under Section 205, 60 Stat. 1091, Public Law 135, 82nd
Congress; 7 U.S.C. 1624, effective July 11, 1952, as amended.
(b) All duties and functions required to be performed by the
West Virginia department of agriculture under the provisions of
this article shall be performed by the commissioner of agriculture.
(c) The commissioner of agriculture shall enforce the
provisions of this article and may make and propose those rules for
promulgation as may be necessary for the enforcement of this
(d) The commissioner has the power to issue an embargo or
general embargo for any product which is or is believed to be
adulterated, mislabeled or is not in compliance with this article
and to cause the distributing of that product to cease. Nothing in
this article may be construed as to requiring the commissioner to
issue embargoes for minor violations of this article when the
commissioner believes that a written notice of violation will serve
the public interest.
(1) The West Virginia department of agriculture may conduct
annual audits of all permit holders, including out-of-state permit
holders to ensure proper reporting of egg inspection fees.
(2) Out-of-state permit holders shall reimburse the department
for travel expenses incurred in conducting out-of-state audits.
The state of West Virginia's out-of-state daily allowance for meals
and lodging is the maximum amount reimbursable, plus travel
expenses to and from locations of permit holders.
§19-10A-11. Egg handling facilities, temperature and humidity,
sanitation and cleaning.
(a) Any packer or distributor engaged in the assembling,
marketing or the processing of eggs for marketing shall maintain
egg handling facilities in a manner commensurate with laws
governing food establishments.
(b) All eggs shall be stored or transported under
refrigeration as required by legislative rule.
(c) The commissioner shall set standards for egg handling
facilities, humidity, sanitation and the cleaning of eggs by
§19-10A-12. Access to premises.
(a) The commissioner of agriculture may enter any store,
vehicle, market or any other business or place where eggs are
bought, stored, processed, packed or offered for sale and to make
inspections as needed to determine compliance with this article and rules adopted under the authority of this article. During an
inspection the commissioner of agriculture may also candle and
weigh eggs to determine if the grades and sizes of the eggs conform
to grades and sizes labeled on the exterior of the container.
(b) All eggs are considered the property of the person in
whose possession they are found except those in the custody of
common carriers or public warehouses where the owner is identified
(a) Criminal penalties. -- Any person violating any provision
of this article or any rule adopted under the authority of this
article is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof,
shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more than five
hundred dollars for the first offense, and for the second or
subsequent offense, shall be fined not less than five hundred
dollars nor more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned not more
than six months, or both fined and imprisoned. Magistrates have
concurrent jurisdiction with circuit courts to enforce the
provisions of this article.
(b) Civil penalties. -- Any person violating a provision of
this article or any rules adopted under the authority of this
article may be assessed a civil penalty by the commissioner of
agriculture. In determining the amount of any civil penalty, the
commissioner shall give due consideration to the history of previous violations of any person, the seriousness of the
violation, including any irreparable harm to the environment, any
hazards to the health and safety of the public, any economic
damages to the public and the demonstrated good faith of any person
charged to achieve compliance with this article before and after
written notification of the violation:
(1) The commissioner may assess a civil penalty of up to one
thousand dollars for a violation;
(2) The civil penalty is payable to the state of West Virginia
and is collectible in any manner now or hereafter provided for
collection of debt. If any person liable to pay a civil penalty
neglects or refuses to pay the civil penalty, the amount of the
civil penalty, together with interest at ten percent, is a lien in
favor of the state of West Virginia upon the property, both real
and personal, of that person after the lien has been entered and
docketed to record in the county where the property is situated.
The clerk of the county, upon receipt of the certified copy of the
lien, shall enter it to record without requiring the payment of
costs as a condition precedent to recording.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the
contrary, the commissioner may propose for promulgation and adopt
rules which permit consent agreement or negotiated settlements for
the civil penalties assessed as a result of violation of the
provision of this article.
(d) Upon application by the commissioner for an injunction,
the circuit court of the county in which the violation is
occurring, has occurred or is about to occur, as the case may be,
may grant a temporary or permanent injunction restraining any
person from violating or continuing to violate any provision of
this article or any rule promulgated under this article,
notwithstanding the existence of other remedies of law. Any such
injunction shall be issued without bond.
(e) No state court may allow for the recovery of damages for
any administrative action taken, if the court finds that there was
a probable cause for that action.
(f) It is the duty of the prosecuting attorney of the county
in which the violation occurred to represent the department of
agriculture, to institute proceedings and to prosecute the person
charged with that violation.
(g) Hearings and appeals. --
(1) Any person aggrieved by any action taken under this
article shall be afforded the opportunity for a hearing before the
commissioner under the rules promulgated by the commissioner;
(2) Hearings shall be conducted in accordance with procedures
set forth by rule;
(3) All the testimony and evidence at a hearing shall be
recorded by mechanical means, which may include the use of tape
recordings. The mechanical record shall be maintained for ninety days from the date of the hearing and a transcript shall be made
available to the aggrieved party;
(4) Any person who feels aggrieved of the suspension,
revocation or denial order may appeal within sixty days to the
circuit court of the county in which the person has located its
principal place of business.
§19-10A-14. Persons punishable as principals.
(a) Whoever commits any act prohibited by any section of this
article, or aids, abets, induces or procures its commission, is
punishable as a principal.
(b) Any person who causes an act to be done which if directly
performed by him or her or another would be a violation of the
provisions of this article is punishable as a principal.
§19-10A-15. Cooperation with other entities.
The commissioner may cooperate with and enter into agreements
with governmental agencies of this state, other states, agencies of
the federal government, agencies of foreign governments and private
associations in order to carry out the purpose and provisions of
§19-10A-16. Confidentiality of trade secrets.
The commissioner may not make public information which
contains or relates to trade secrets, commercial or financial
information obtained from a person or privileged or confidential
information: Provided, That when the information is needed to carry out the provisions of this article, this information may be
revealed, subject to a protective order, to any federal, state or
local agency consultant or may be revealed, subject to a protective
order, at a closed hearing or in findings of fact issued by the