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Supermarket egg fraudster uncovered

Keith Owen, a former provider of free range eggs to the UK supermarket industry, has today been convicted of fraud and sentenced to jail. His crime was to sell eggs from his battery hens as free range, a fraud which took in the likes of Sainsbury's and Tesco. It is believed that the 44-year-old made profits in excess of £3 million over the two-year period in question and has been forced to surrender these proceeds to the authorities.

The scam was uncovered by Defra after further inspection of his "free range eggs" showed signs of wire indentations which are closely associated with battery hens. At a time when the UK supermarket industry is adamant that it can name and shame any supplier in its supply chain it is surprising that Keith Owen was able to sell battery hen eggs as free range eggs over a two-year period to some of the biggest names in the UK supermarket industry.

While there is still a big market for organic goods in the UK there is no doubt that publicity surrounding Keith Owen's scam will do the sector no favours. However, thankfully there have been new systems and new policies introduced to ensure this type of scam cannot be repeated in the future although the very fact he was able to get away with this for so long is a major concern.

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