Organic egg fraud case ruling handed down

The court in Arnhem Thursday found an egg hatchery and three hen farms guilty of keeping more chickens than was allowed through forgery. The businesses were given a fine and the managers were sentenced to community service. The court did, however, rule that there was not enough evidence to prove that the businesses were selling normal eggs as free range eggs.

The egg hatchery in Babberich was found guilty of forging invoices to reflect fewer hens than were actually delivered, making it possible for the hen farms to keep more chickens than is allowed under legislation. The company was given a fine of 150,000 euros and both executives have been sentenced to 240 hours of community service, 80 hours of which are conditional. They were not given a prison sentence as this was their first offense.

The court found the three hen farms guilty of having the false invoices from the egg hatchery of Babberich and violating the manure law. They had more hens in their businesses than was allowed under the poultry rights. The hen farm in Leveroy received a fine of 39,000 euros, the hen farm in Haule a fine of 31,000 euros and the hen farm in Landhorst a fine of 23,000 euros. The fines were based on the size of the company and the extent of their violations of the poultry rights. The executives of the companies were each sentenced to 160 hours of community service, 40 hours of which are conditional.

The court ruled that it could not be proven that these companies were selling normal eggs as more expensive free-range eggs, as the prosecution's case did not show that the hens' laying cages did not comply with the European legislation on space for the hens, drinking and eating facilities. The prosecution did not examine the respective pens and only referred to certificates of the Foundation Control Poultry, Eggs and Egg Products when purchasing the hens. According to the court, this was insufficient evidence, as the suspects had substantiated documents that show that their pens meet European standards. The companies were acquitted of this charge.