Local campaign uncovers new free-range fraud

Testing by Derbyshire’s trading standards authority has revealed that 19 out of 50 eggs subject to random testing were being marketed under an inaccurate description.

The worst offences were two eggs labelled as free-range – and a third described as a barn egg – which after testing were found to have come from caged birds.

Trading standards officers checked 50 eggs in total. In total, 19 eggs did not fully match the description on the box.

Nine had been correctly labelled as coming from cage systems, 39 were labelled as free-range, one barn raised and one organic.

Faults were found with the labelling of a further 11 eggs, with several also falling short of quality standards. Two of the eggs also failed to meet weight criteria, as set out in the Food Safety Act.

Various techniques were used to test the eggs. These included shining an ultraviolet light, to highlight shell marks on the so-called free-range eggs, proving they had been laid in cages. A light was also used to check freshness, by measuring air space sizes.

“Egg fraud is a big business across the country”, said local councillor Carol Hart, saying that shoppers had a right to know what they were buying.

“Free-range eggs are much more expensive than cage-produced eggs. It is important to protect well-run businesses that describe their products correctly from fraudulent competitors.”

As a result of the investigation, trading standards officers have issued advice to help nine businesses in Derbyshire meet legal requirements. Other cases have been referred to the Egg Marketing Inspectorate.

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