An ongoing DEFRA investigation into egg labelling fraud has revealed that up to one million dozen “suspect eggs” were “allegedly” imported into the UK over a 10-week period.
A DEFRA spokesman would not specify when this 10-week period occurred but confirmed that it was during its ongoing, formal investigation into the 9 billion eggs produced in the UK annually.
The spokesman also stated that it was a “possibility” that “suspect eggs” had been mislabelled and sold as free-range eggs over a period of up to five years.
Originally the DEFRA investigation led officials to Germany where two people, Bernstein and Richter, were believed to be allegedly involved in the fraud. But DEFRA enquiries into the two names and an address in Germany proved false. The DEFRA spokesman confirmed: “This particular line of the investigation has ceased. We are happy that Germany is not involved.”
The investigation has now moved on to a P.O. Box on Gloucester Road, Kensington, south-west London. On 21 November 2006, a man [pictured] was recorded on CCTV unsuccessfully attempting to access a P.O. Box opened under the name of Bernstein.
A DEFRA spokesman said: “Whilst it would appear from our enquiries that this particular aspect of the alleged fraud has ceased; our investigation team is very keen to identify this individual and establish his innocence or otherwise in connection with this particular line of inquiry.”
The DEFRA investigation team is now looking at trading in “suspect eggs” from two other European countries. The DEFRA spokesman could not specify which countries these were for legal reasons. But he stated: “It is important to note that this is an alleged fraud against the public and the rest of the British egg industry and it is important we get to the bottom of this.”
The DEFRA team is keen to identify this individual. If you have any information, contact the DEFRA Investigation Services on 0117 959 3111.