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Berlin - A scandal over mislabelled organic and free-range eggs that came from battery hens in cramped cages spread to eight of Germany's 16 states on Tuesday.
The revelations have angered consumers and damaged the image of “bio” produce, which is sold as being natural, free of industrial chemicals and produced with animal welfare in mind.
“Our fear is that now people will say that 'bio can't be trusted either',” Eckehard Niemann, spokesman for the farmers association AbL, told dpa.
German media this week published photos provided by an animal welfare group of sick-looking hens packed tightly into cages at a farm that sold eggs advertised as organic.
State prosecutors have focused on more than 100 farms in the northern state of Lower Saxony, but are now looking at suspect farms in seven other states, including North-Rhine Westphalia.
A lawmaker responsible for consumer protection, Hans-Michael Goldmann, has called for tighter monitoring of all food products made and sold in Germany.
About 2,400 food inspectors now work in the country of more than 80 million, said the inspectors' national association.
Each inspector is responsible for checking up to 1 200 businesses, said the association's chairman Martin Mueller, in comments to the Welt daily.
He demanded that, to improve food safety control, the number of inspectors should be boosted to at least 4 000. - Sapa-dpa