Ongoing outbreaks of avian influenza in the UK mean that free-range egg producers face further labelling changes from the beginning of this month.
Eggs will be reclassified as ‘barn eggs’ as the 16-week grace period comes to an end following the introduction of the first housing order that was imposed on flocks in parts of East Anglia in mid-October.
This was followed by an ‘all-England’ housing order on 7 November, with Wales and Northern Ireland following suit over the following month. Scotland was the only home nation not to impose an order.
Due to operational difficulties posed by different 16-week clocks ticking, the labelling solution – agreed with the British Retail Consortium in 2022 – is being aligned with the end of the first 16-week period in parts of East Anglia.
The British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) said there was no prospect of an imminent end to the compulsory housing order as highly pathogenic avian influenza outbreaks continue across the UK. The BEIC has announced the following:
It is understood that these temporary arrangements will remain in place until 7 days after the housing order is lifted.
Meanwhile, in the UK, there have been 166 confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 since 1 October 2022. Of these, 144 cases have been found in England, 18 in Scotland, 3 in Wales and 1 in Northern Ireland. There have been 279 cases of avian influenza H5N1 in England since the current outbreak started in October 2021.