• Germany edition
 
Prosecutors crack 'systematic egg fraud'
Photo: DPA

Prosecutors crack 'systematic egg fraud'

Published: 25 Feb 2013 08:07 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Feb 2013 08:07 GMT+01:00

It would seem that millions of eggs had been sold under false pretences over the last few years, exploiting the willingness of some customers to pay extra for produce from more humanely kept birds.

Prosecutors in Oldenburg, Lower Saxony, told Der Spiegel magazine they were investigating around 150 firms in that state and around 50 elsewhere. Frauke Wilken, spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office told the magazine that initial investigations had begun in the autumn of 2011, and had revealed ever more suspect operations.

"The suspicion is that this is a case of systematic fraud. It is no minor matter - it would be deception of consumers," said Christian Mayer, the new Lower Saxony agriculture minister.

He said if the suspicions were proven, he would move to withdraw operation licenses from the relevant farms.

Those under suspicion were largely conventional farms, but some organic farms were also affected.

Chickens and their eggs can only be described as free-range if each animal has access to at least four square metres of space, while the description organic, or "bio" in German, requires further specific conditions.

Should any farmers be convicted of breaking the food produce and animal feed laws or organic farming laws, they could be fined or even imprisoned for up to a year. Charges of fraud could also be pressed.

DPA/The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

09:25 February 25, 2013 by twisted
How about withdrawing their license(s) and a nice big fine, something large enough so that the farmers know the government is serious about stopping this type of fraud.
10:22 February 25, 2013 by McM
What a yolk. More evidence of German inability to label their food correctly. How can the great BIO ( Big Investment Oportunity) scam survive and their sheepish customer base stay happy if there is so many differentiation cock ups going on in the food industry. You would have be naive to believe it was never the case.
12:13 February 25, 2013 by AlexR
"Systematic fraud" in Germany? I am shocked. I thought that only Greece, Italy and the other southern Europeans are corrupted while Germany is the beacon of transparency and honesty.

Seriously though, this kind of fraud was only a matter of time to be revealed. The last 5 years, the market is flooded with "BIO" products. Even at the discount supermarkets you find more BIO eggs, milk and meat than the "normal" ones, while the price is only slightly higher. Those two observations are more than sufficient to make anyone suspicious about the real origin of those "organic" products.
14:47 February 25, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
I always thought I was getting eggs laid by hens who were hand-reared by Buddhist monks on the Ganges delta. How could I have been so wrong? / Sarchasm
16:13 February 25, 2013 by Chalkster
@Berlin fuer alles.

Your daily comments triple my enjoyment of reading the local. I think the editors should give you your own column, where you could give a sarcastic, yet humourous, breakdown on the days news. Keep up the good work as not only do you hit the hammer square on the head, you bring many people a good laugh in these often too depressing times.
16:39 February 25, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
@Chalkster

TL prefer to remove my comments so I doubt they would offer me my own column. In any case if they did it would likely be on an internship basis. But thanks for the good feedback in any case. Life is too short to be taken too serious but is also too short to keep one's head buried in the sand.
22:00 February 25, 2013 by bwvilla
@Berlin fuer alles

If you make the same comment against enough articles, eventually someone will laugh.

c.f. The horse meat from Poland article.

Yawn...
23:03 February 25, 2013 by Berlin fuer alles
@bwvilla

It applied to both articles so I made it on both articles. TL articles tend to repeat themselves a lot anyway. Yawn!
23:32 February 25, 2013 by US-TommyBoy
Over here in the states, I was always going to get a dozen chicks in the spring and feed them until they were big enough to fend for themselves and set them free in the neighborhood. Then we could all have free range chickens and eggs.

I didn't want to do the time for the crime, so I eat chemo eggs and chickens.

With all of the genetically modified corn and soybeans, if they feed them a kernel of either they aren't organic chickens, but they possible could be free range.

I hope you guys get the government to test the chickens that are free range for genetically modified grain in them.
23:33 February 25, 2013 by ChrisRea
@ AlexR

Of course fraud and corruption are to be found in any country, including Germany. Still Greece remains the champion, where apparently half of the population practices tax evasion, as a recent survey shows (http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_24/02/2013_484413). "The findings point to the fact that many Greeks still do not see tax dodging as a bad thing"
23:48 February 25, 2013 by Staticjumper
I wish the article described how this case came to light in the first place. Did a customer crack open some fraudulent "organic/free-range" eggs for breakfast and immediately notice the difference in color or smell? Did the eggs have a different taste or unusual texture? Other than labeling and, of course, price is there any way the customer can tell the obviously superior organic/free-range egg from standard eggs?
00:28 February 26, 2013 by grazhdanin
'humanely' means 'imprisoned' and 'exploited'?
Today's headlines
Have Your Say
Should Germany legalize cannabis?
Photo: DPA

Should Germany legalize cannabis?

A New York Times editorial on Sunday called for the US to drop its ban on marijuana, calling the strongly-worded law a "laughing stock". Should Germany follow the US states of Colorado and Washington and legalize recreational use of the drug? READ  

Cows kill German dog walker in Austria
File Photo: DPA

Cows kill German dog walker in Austria

A 45-year-old German woman died when she was attacked by a herd of 20 cows and calves on Monday afternoon on an Alpine pasture in Tyrol's Stubaital valley. READ  

Knut goes on display in Berlin museum
Knut's new home in Berlin's Natural History Museum. Photo: DPA

Knut goes on display in Berlin museum

Germany’s favourite polar bear Knut is set to pull in the crowds again - but this time from a display case. More than three years after his death, his real fur has been used to create a new Knut for a museum exhibition. READ  

And the winner of the EU single market is...
German incomes are higher thanks to the EU. Photo: DPA

And the winner of the EU single market is...

Germany and Denmark came out as the winners of the European Union's single market in a study released on Monday. Integrating economically with its neighbours has helped the German economy grow an average of €37 billion a year since 1992. READ  

Synagogue attacked, rabbi gets death threats
Police check the outside of a synagogue in Wuppertal for evidence of arson on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Synagogue attacked, rabbi gets death threats

A wave of anti-Semitism in Germany, unleashed by the Gaza crisis, shows no sign of abating. A synagogue was attacked on Tuesday morning, a rabbi received death threats and anti-Jewish comments online have increased. Attacks on mosques have also risen. READ  

UBS pays Germany €300m in tax fight
Photo: DPA

UBS pays Germany €300m in tax fight

Top Swiss bank UBS settled a long-running legal dispute with Germany on Tuesday by agreeing to pay a fine of €300 million. Germany suspects UBS of having helped account holders hide millions from the taxman. READ  

Two die as heavy rain and floods hits west
Münster was one of the areas worst hit by Monday night's heavy rain. Photo: DPA

Two die as heavy rain and floods hits west

UPDATE: A man drowned in his cellar on Monday night as heavy rain battered parts of north-western Germany. A second man died when he tried to drive through a flooded street. The emergency services were in places overwhelmed by hundreds of calls. There are further weather warnings in place for Tuesday. READ  

EU to hit Russia with tough sanctions
Merkel has finally lost patience with Putin. Photo: DPA

EU to hit Russia with tough sanctions

The EU is set to agree a raft of new wide-ranging sanctions against Russia on Tuesday, after Germany changed its stance on upping the economic pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Ukraine crisis. READ  

'Mad professor' to swim length of Rhine
Professor Andreas Fath, 49, in training along the Rhine in Baden-Württemberg in June. Photo: DPA

'Mad professor' to swim length of Rhine

German chemistry professor Andreas Fath started on Monday a gruelling four-week solo swim down the Rhine river for the benefit of science and the environment. READ  

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?
Markus Rehm became German champion on Saturday. Photo: DPA

Unfair advantage for one-legged long jumper?

Paralympics gold medallist Markus Rehm triumphed over his non-disabled rivals on Saturday, winning the German long jump championship. But athletics officials are now reviewing whether his prosthetic leg gave him an unfair advantage. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Education
Germany's students fail to graduate in time
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Hamburg harbour lit up in blue
Business & Money
JobTalk: 'Application process is failing'
Photo: Bundesarchiv/Bild 183-S45825
Culture
Germany puts 700,000 WWI docs online
Photo: DPA
Society
This man wants to give all of us €12,000 a year
Photo: DPA
Education
Top university switches master's courses to English
instagram.com/gotzemario
Gallery
Germany's World Cup stars share their holiday photos
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The Local List: 12 best words in German
Photo: DPA
Gallery
German Bucket List: How many of these can you tick off?
Photo: Europeana.de 1914 - 1918
Gallery
A German soldier's life behind WWI lines
Education
Raising the bar for law & business in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
Photo: DPA
Features
The Local List Archive - Your guide to all things German
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual school turning education on its head
Sponsored Article
CurrencyFair: Why it pays when making overseas transfers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,227
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd