Egg labelling concession announced

Restrictions on poultry movements are being enforced because of the latest outbreak of Avian Influenza. The outbreak is nationwide and infected poultry have been found in Somerset near Frome. As a result government has mandated that all poultry in England be kept indoors (“Housing”) to limit the outbreak. Housing combined with stringent biosecurity measures provide greater risk reduction. They say these measures have been key in driving the avian influenza case rate down in the face of unprecedented wild bird infections.

This has obvious implications for poultry that is usually free range and the eggs from them that are sold as free range. Legislation requires an indication of the farming method must appear on the outer surface of packs containing eggs. As a result of the current outbreak government has mandated changes to egg labelling rules. These come into effect at various times. For Somerset the date mandated is from 27 February. From that point, eggs from all free range poultry currently managed indoors, must be labelled as “barn eggs”.

Similar labelling changes were introduced for a period last year for the same reasons.

The new rules will remain in place until the mandatory housing of poultry is lifted. Announcing the new rules, Farming Minister Mark Spencer noted: “Farmers and poultry producers are facing real pressures as a result of this avian influenza outbreak. We hope the labelling concessions announced today will help ease the burden industry is facing. We are very mindful of the need to maintain consumer confidence in the free-range brand long-term and appreciate the continued cooperation from the sector as we battle this insidious disease.”

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