In Germany, a new food scandal is emerging. Once again, it’s about false labeling.
According to a report published by the German newspaper – der Spiegel – the county prosecutor of Oldenburg has initiated something like 150 investigations against egg producers in Lower Saxony, and another 50 in the counties of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Nordrhein-Westfalen. It regards violations of Germany’s Food and Organic Farming Act. According to der Spiegel, the egg producers had an average of 10 to 20 percent more chickens per square metre than officially approved.
Although it appears that this has been the case for years, the scandal is only emerging now as a result of a court case against a supplier. German tabloids such as die Bild Zeitung were quick to label the story along the lines of “Fraud with organic eggs” but it now emerged that most of the farms that are being investigated were conventional (including barn eggs and free range).
The industrialisation of organic agriculture, and in particular the egg-laying process, has long been criticized. Germany’s Small Farmers’ Association (Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft – AbL) are calling for organic farming associations to distance themselves from agro-industrial investors, and to instead adopt clear size limits for herds and flocks.
IFOAM EU Group has called for more information regarding the apparent scandal. Christopher Stopes, IFOAM EU President has reacted by saying “…if the allegations are shown to be true, consumers are clearly harmed by such criminal activity, as are the many thousands of organic far mers and businesses throughout Europe who honestly uphold the highest standards of food production in Europe.”