OLDENBURG, Germany – Officials in Germany are investigating violations of rules for organic free-range egg production, according to news reports. This latest food fraud comes on the heels of Europe's widespread horse-meat-labeled-as-beef scandal.

More than 150 poultry farms in the German state of Lower Saxony and 36 Dutch poultry farms are under investigation for fraud involving organic eggs. Investigators have been looking into the issue since 2011, according to news reports. For years poultry farmers across northern Germany have been suspected of violating rules for free-range and organic poultry farming by keeping more than the permitted number of chickens in their stalls. The eggs were then sold at higher prices under the organic label, according to chief prosecutor Roland Hermann.

Dutch farms allegedly supplied laying hens to the German poultry farmers using a double book-keeping system and fake billing. The system enabled the German poultry farmers to show they had fewer chickens at their facilities than they did, according to news reports.

Violations of rules governing cage-free and organic products are punishable by fines and prison sentences.