The Public Attorney’s Office in Oldenburg (Lower Saxony) has been investigating several hundred companies under the suspicion of systematically disregarding the farming conditions for laying hens, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports in its online edition on 24 February 2013. According to the information in Der Spiegel, hundreds of searches have taken place relating fraud and violations of the food law as well as of the law on organic farming. In addition, the companies might have also ignored laws on animal welfare and environmental laws.
The prosecutors have confirmed that approx. 150 producers are involved in Lower Saxony, and a further 50 cases were handed over to law enforcement agencies in other federal states. According to the German organic farming association Naturland, about 40 of those producers are certified organic companies.
Evidently, several million eggs have falsely been sold as "organic". The new Minister of Agriculture of Lower Saxony, Christian Meyer (Alliance 90/The Greens) has announced that if the suspicions should be confirmed, this would have serious consequences, including the withdrawal of the approval for the companies involved.
The current scandal was triggered by a now completed court case. A farmer had taken a vendor of laying hens to court. During the trial, the judge confirmed that 15,000 chicken were kept instead of the reported 12,000.