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Businessman Jailed Over Egg Labelling Scandal

by 5m Editor
12 March 2010, at 11:02am

UK - The sentencing of a businessman jailed for his part in a multi-million pound egg fraud sends out a strong message, said the NFU yesterday.

Keith Owen, of Worcestershire-based Heart of England Eggs, had pleaded guilty to three counts of false accounting and was yesterday jailed for three years and ordered to pay a total of £3.25 million (£3 million confiscation order and £0.25 million prosecution costs). The prosecution was brought by Defra which alleged that millions of eggs laid by caged birds were passed off as free-range or organic.

NFU poultry board chairman Charles Bourns said, “I welcome the outcome of this trial. The confiscation order and custodial sentence handed down by the courts sends out a strong message that this kind of activity will not be tolerated. The vast majority of people working within the egg industry are hard-working and honest. Thankfully cases like this are few and far between.

“Following the allegations, the British Lion scheme has strengthened its code of practice to ensure its traceability is robust, with on farm stamping, a new database to track eggs throughout the system and unannounced audits. I am sure that egg producers will help report any wrongdoing and above all protect the integrity of the British egg industry

“Consumers can be reassured that with new procedures in place the eggs they are buying are genuine. The Lion mark helps ensure the highest standards of traceability and labelling.”