News 331 views update:Nov 17, 2006

Eggs falsely labelled free range

In the UK, it has been alleged that each year up to 30 million battery-farmed eggs are sold at premium prices as free-range eggs.

British consumers buy an estimated nine billion eggs per year, around a third of which are free-range. The alleged labelling fraud reportedly involves an estimated one percent of the free-range sector, which would equate to 30 million eggs a year.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has launched an investigation in response to the allegations of corruption among farmers and egg dealers.
A DEFRA spokesman said: "What we have uncovered at the moment is that some eggs which are labelled free-range are not. We thought the public should be made aware.
“Although formal investigations are ongoing and may lead to prosecutions, DEFRA decided, in the public interest, to ask the industry and retailers to satisfy themselves immediately that such practice is no longer taking place."
The labelling issue is further complicated by the lack of clear guidelines that define precisely what free range is, a matter set to be addressed by the Government Egg Marketing Inspectorate.
A spokesperson from the British Egg Information Service said: "We are keen to help DEFRA and ensure that action is taken if there are any irregularities. If anyone has infringed regulations we would support the prosecution of them."
The Food Commission advised the public to choose organic produce if they wanted to avoid the issue. A spokesman said: "If this is true then it really would be a case of ripping off consumers.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was "appalled" that some eggs may be incorrectly labelled as free range and raised concerns the allegations could affect the market.

Editor WorldPoultry

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