A businessman has been jailed and ordered to pay £3.25m for his part in a multimillion-pound egg fraud.
Defra alleged that Keith Owen of Worcestershire-based Heart of England Eggs had passed off millions of eggs laid by caged birds as either free-range or organic.
Owen pleaded guilty to three counts of false accounting. He was jailed for three years and ordered to pay £3.25m in costs and a confiscation order.
“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,” said Charles Bourns, chair of the National Farmers Union poultry board.
“The confiscation order and custodial sentence sends out a strong message that this kind of activity will not be tolerated.”
Since 1 January this year all Lion-marked eggs produced from cage systems have been stamped on the farm with the production and producer code.
Free range and organic eggs will be stamped on-farm from 1 January 2011.
Noble sees potential for increase in eggs (30 January 2010)
Foodservice sector must now switch to British eggs, says Lion (5 December 2009)
Eggs must tell better story, says Lib Dem (31 October 2009)