Shops and restaurants in Derbyshire are being warned to make sure the eggs they are selling and cooking with comply with the law.
Checks are being carried out by Derbyshire County Council trading standards officers alongside environmental health colleagues from district councils, and the Egg Marketing Inspectorate.
Supermarkets, shops, restaurants and cafes will be visited during October and November to make sure that only eggs meeting ‘Class A’ standards are being used and sold, and that they are labelled and described correctly.
The eggs will be tested to ensure that they are as described – for example eggs labelled ‘free range’ not being produced by caged birds, that they are safe and of the required quality.
Coun Kevin Parkinson, Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said: “Egg fraud has the potential to be big business and we are working closely with our district council colleagues and the Egg Marketing Inspectorate to protect consumers.
“It’s important that shoppers know they’re getting what they pay for, that the eggs are safe, of good quality and that they’re correctly labelled.
“There’s a health issue here and eggs must meet the required standards. Eggs which are not labelled correctly would not be traceable in the event of a health scare.”
Coun Parkinson added: “We must also protect the livelihoods of the retailers and restaurant owners who buy their eggs legitimately. For example, free-range eggs are much more expensive than cage-produced ones and it is important to ensure well-run businesses are not suffering at the hands of fraudulent competitors.”
Various techniques will be used to test eggs including shining an ultra-violet light to show up marks on the shells of eggs claiming to be free-range to see if they were laid in cages.
Lights can also be used to test the quality of eggs by checking their air space – older eggs have bigger air spaces.
Letters have been sent to all catering outlets in Derbyshire which are likely to use eggs to remind them of their legal obligations and advising what to look out for.