A scam involving eggs laid by battery hens in Europe being sold as free-range or organic in UK supermarkets is 10 times bigger than previously feared.
Consumers may have been duped into paying higher prices for more than 500 million mislabelled eggs over five years, according to authorities.
Investigators from the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are continuing their investigation into the scale of egg fraud in Britain. Three Worcester-shire wholesalers are on bail as part of the inquiry.
In a fresh twist, CCTV images were released yesterday of a man investigators suspect may be a UK broker in the swindle.
The man, in his 50s or 60s, is pictured attempting to access a postal safety deposit box in Kensington, west London. The box was rented in the name of Heinz Bernstein, who gave an address in Herford, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, but officers believe both are false. The investigation into the man is not related to the raid at the Worcestershire plant, Defra said.
A Defra spokesman also said investigators do not believe mislabelled eggs are still being traded.
An investigation into the mislabelling of eggs was launched last November. More than two million imported battery eggs may have been misleadingly labelled and sold as free-range or organic every week over five years in the UK.
Enforcement officers are trying to unravel a complex supply network to find out who masterminded the operation.
A raid took place at a Bromsgrove egg packing firm, Heart of England Eggs, where equipment and paperwork were seized. Twin brothers Keith and Alan Owen, and Carol Owen, Keith's wife, were released on bail as West Mercia Police and Defra continued their inquiries.