Advice received yesterday (23rd March 2017) suggests the bird flu advisory labels found on hitherto free range eggs must be changed.
We received a call yesterday from Paul Radnor of the Animal & Plant Health Authority (APHA). We have built a good relationship with Paul over the labelling changes required from the current situation with respect to avian flu. He advised us that due to the time that the housing order has been in place, labelling would now have to indicate free range eggs as “Barn Eggs”.
As we have blogged previously, APHA and DEFRA have issues a housing order to improve bio-security in the national flock. This measure was taken to try and prevent the spread of avian flu in commercial flocks from wild birds by housing birds to keep them away from mixing with wild birds. This brought about the first stage of bird flu advisory labels stating: “Eggs laid by hens temporarily housed in barns for their welfare”.
The welfare of the national flock is paramount and housing the birds is the right thing to do. However, under EU regulations, birds that are not given free access to the outside (and under specific minimum standards) cannot be labelled “Free Range”. Despite the special circumstances, the EU has been unable to grant any special dispensation despite the circumstances.
It is debatable as to whether the UK government is being over-zealous in enforcing the EU rules (which other EU governments may not enforce as keenly).
The housing order means that birds have now been housed for an excess of 12 weeks which is the cut-off point to declare free range under the EU regulations.
Despite farmers wanting to rear their foul free range, the housing order is preventing them doing so. Many have had to incurr additional costs to caring for their flocks as a result of this order.
Bird Flu Advisory Labels
The new mandated bird flu advisory labels include the same wording as the original eggs but have a clear indicator specifying the eggs are now class 2 Barn eggs.
We have prepared new bird flu advisory labels and placed them into stock ready to order. As such we do not have a change over date after which the original bird flu advisory labels may not be used so suggest that egg producers use up their supplies for the time being.
If you require any advice, we recommend calling APHA or DEFRA or your local trading standards. To order, click here or call us on 01332 865933 or fill in the form below and we can contact you by return: