British shoppers can ‘no longer buy free-range eggs’ in UK supermarkets.
It’s due to outbreaks of bird flu in the winter, which meant chickens had to be kept indoors and weren’t allowed to wander outside, therefore their eggs cannot be labelled ‘free-range’.
According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said: “The 16-week grace period we allowed for free-range eggs has now been exceeded, and eggs must now be marketed as ‘barn eggs’.
“We have worked closely with the sector and retailers to implement these changes as smoothly as possible.”
It comes as the UK government has warned of its ‘biggest ever outbreak’ of avian influenza last year, with over 86 cases confirmed in England by November 2021.
The website states: “When avian influenza is confirmed or suspected in poultry or other captive birds, disease control zones are put in place around the infected premises to prevent the spread of the disease.
“Within these zones, a range of restrictions on the movement of poultry and material associated with their keeping can apply.”
Aimee Mahony, the chief poultry adviser at The National Farmer’s Union, has claimed the birds will be able to go outside again ‘when risk levels have been reduced’.
She explained: “Shoppers may notice different labels on egg packs explaining that the eggs have been laid by hens temporarily housed to protect their health and welfare.
“Once the risk levels have reduced and the housing measures have been lifted by Defra, birds will be able to go outside again.”
Daniel Brown, who is an egg producer from Suffolk with over 40,000 free-range hens, has said it hasn’t massively affected the animals so far.
He told The Guardian: “We’ve given them extra things in the shed, like hay and grit to give them things to peck at and keep them amused.
“A chicken won’t be bothered about not going outside in December and January, but when it’s nice in May they’ll want to be out late into the evening.”
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