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Free-range eggs will NOT be available in UK stores from next week | United Kingdom | News UK News

Since November, the birds have not been allowed to roam freely outdoors due to fears of the bird flu virus spreading. With UK free range chickens being moved indoors as a precaution, any eggs for sale will need to reflect that they were not laid outdoors.

Supermarkets, shops and suppliers will now have to label these eggs as ‘barn eggs’ – displaying this clearly on the packaging.

The term barn eggs generally refers to eggs laid in an indoor environment.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: ‘The 16 week grace period we had given to free-range eggs has now passed and the eggs must now be marketed as “barn eggs”.

“We have worked closely with the industry and retailers to implement these changes as easily as possible.”

The British Retail Consortium said supermarkets would provide signs to explain the change to consumers, but “when the current measures are lifted, eggs will once again become free-range”.

Aimee Mahony, National Farmers’ Union Chief Poultry Adviser, said: ‘Buyers may notice different labels on egg packs explaining that the eggs were laid by temporarily housed hens to protect their health and welfare. -to be.

“Once risk levels have decreased and housing measures have been lifted by Defra, the birds will be able to come out again.”

Last winter Britain was hit by what the government calls the “biggest outbreak of bird flu on record”.

More than 80 cases of the virus have been reported in England alone.

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According to government guidelines: “When avian influenza is confirmed or suspected in poultry or other captive birds, disease control zones are set up around infected premises to prevent the spread of the disease.

“In these areas, a range of restrictions on the movement of poultry and equipment associated with their keeping may apply.”

Highlighting the cases, the government confirmed “85 cases of highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza in England”.

A statement said: ‘There have also been two cases of bird flu in Wales where a small area of ​​the disease control areas around the premises has spread to England.

“One of these areas is still in place and one has been removed.

“Additionally, there were two cases of bird flu in Scotland where a small area of ​​the surveillance zone surrounding each case extended into England, both of these areas have been revoked.”

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As a result, birds reared for meat and eggs have been under government orders to stay indoors since November – to reduce the risk of disease outbreaks.

The length of time they have been kept indoors means their eggs can no longer be tagged outdoors.

Farmers had hoped the government would lift the order, but after further outbreaks of bird flu last week officials decided to keep the order in place.

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Suffolk-based egg farmer Daniel Brown, who keeps more than 40,000 free-range hens, said his birds have done well indoors so far.

Speaking to The Guardian, he said: ‘We gave them extra things in the hay and gravel in the shed shape to give them things to peck on and amuse them.

Mr Brown said bird flu outbreaks generally wane as the weather gets warmer, so he hopes the last order will be lifted soon.

He added: “A chicken won’t mind not going out in December and January, but when the weather is nice in May, it will want to come out late in the evening.”

Britain has not been alone in suffering the consequences of the virus.

Reports have been registered across Europe, with France currently testing a bird flu vaccine on birds.

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This notice was published: 2022-03-18 22:11:00

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