• Germany's news in English
 

Prosecutors crack 'systematic egg fraud'

Published: 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)

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
Women's World Cup
Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat
Silvia Neid congratulates England after Germany's 1-0 defeat. Photo: DPA

Löw defends Neid as critics circle after defeat

World Cup winning coach Joachim Löw defended his female counterpart Silvia Neid on Monday after Germany fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat to England in the third place play-off of the Women's World Cup. READ  

Greece crisis
Merkel calls for special eurozone Greece summit
Over 60 percent of Greeks voted 'No' in the referendum. Photo: DPA

Merkel calls for special eurozone Greece summit

Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the outcome of Greece's referendum with French President Francois Hollande in a telephone call Sunday evening, with both agreeing the 'No' vote must be respected, a German government spokesman said. READ  

Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list
An eightfold composite picture of different views of the Chilehaus (Chile House) and the Sprinkenhof in Hamburg. Photo: EPA/Christian Charisius/dpa/picture alliance

Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list

The UN cultural agency on Sunday designated Hamburg's historic maritime warehouse and business districts, boasting early 20th century German brick architecture, as World Heritage sites. READ  

Germany's AfD heads right with new leader
Frauke Petry, the new leader of the AfD. Photo: Lukas Schulze/picture alliance/dpa

Germany's AfD heads right with new leader

Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ousted its co-founder and frontman Bernd Lucke on Saturday to elect a new leader from its right wing, signalling a shift in focus to immigration from its anti-euro origins. READ  

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture
A fissure on the Autobahn near Heidelberg. Photo: DPA

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture

The heatwave sweeping across the country may have Germans flocking to the sea this weekend, but the extreme temperatures are also causing Autobahns to break apart. READ  

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats

A vast Nazi mega-complex meant as holiday homes for German workers and later used by the Soviets as a Cold War barracks is about to be turned into luxury flats. READ  

Greece crisis
'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble
A poster of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in Athens reads "For five years he has sucked your blood. Now tell him NO." Photo: DPA

'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble

UPDATE: Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Friday that there would be no quick release of bailout funds to Greece after the country's referendum on whether to accept its creditors' terms on Sunday. READ  

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp
The new Deutsche Post stamp showing the Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp

Pro-Tibet activists have created a new limited-edition stamp featuring the Dalai Lama to mark the Tibetan spiritual leader's 80th birthday. READ  

Women's World Cup
'Germany will crack England': top coach
Star striker Celia Sasic. Photo: DPA

'Germany will crack England': top coach

The manager of European champions FFC Frankfurt told The Local he expects Germany to beat England in the third place play-off in the Women's World Cup, and predicted his protege Celia Sasic will grab a goal or two. READ  

NSA surveillance scandal
Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the highest-profile German victim of NSA spying, speaking on the phone. Photo: DPA

Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying

Green Party security expert Konstantin von Notz told The Local on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel is failing to restore faith in the German-US partnership following fresh spying revelations. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
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

6,912
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd