Supermarket shoppers will no longer be able to buy free-range eggs from Monday.
Birds have not been allowed outdoors following an outbreak of avian flu in November. According to The Guardian, shops will now have to label their eggs as ‘barn eggs’ instead of free-range, meaning they were produced by hens homed permanently indoors.
Supermarkets in the UK will also place signs around the store explaining the change. The Telegraph reports stores such as Sainsbury’s and Morrisons will be affected by the label change- as they have policies in place to only sell free-range eggs.
Birds reared for meat and eggs were ordered to be kept indoors since last autumn in the face of the outbreak. And now the length of time they have been kept indoors means their eggs can no longer be labelled as free-range.
Farmers were hopeful the government would lift the housing order this month, but after new avian flu outbreaks in the past week, officials have decided to keep the order in place. The UK has not been alone in being affected by avian flu outbreaks this year, with continental Europe suffering one of its worst winters for the disease too.
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.” The British Retail Consortium said that supermarkets would be providing signage to explain the change to consumers, but that “when the current measures are lifted, eggs will go back to being free-range”.
The National Farmers’ Union’s chief poultry adviser, Aimee Mahony, said: “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.”
Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what’s on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here