For ethical egg consumers across the country, we’ve got some bad news: There will be NO free range eggs on the shelves, anywhere, from Monday 21 March – and we can blame a nasty ‘Avian Flu’ outbreak for this disruption.
Avian Flu outbreak causing chaos for consumers
The outbreak has forced farmers to keep their chickens locked inside for the duration of winter. It has been described as one of the worst Avian Flu pandemics ever seen in Britain, and guidance from the government has prevented poultry stocks from going outside at all.
The measures, introduced back in November 2021, have been in place for ALL registered providers. A 16-week grace period had been put in place, meaning that traders could still market the eggs as free range. However, that window will expire on Monday.
NFU explain situation with free range eggs
With Avian Flu still threatening the nation’s livestock, affected birds are still being kept indoors. Provisions have been made by suppliers, allowing their chickens to still enjoy adequate roaming space. Alas, this still doesn’t meet the definition of free range.
The 16-week grace period for the marketing of free range eggs will end on 21 March meaning eggs from hens temporarily housed in barns for their welfare can no longer be marketed as free range. Find out what you need to do in our member briefing ⤵️ https://t.co/eWvQ8YI7GJ #BirdFlu— NFU Poultry (@NFU_Poultry) March 16, 2022
When will free range eggs return to shops?
No date has been set for the lifting of these restrictions. The National Farmers Unions (NFU) did reveal, however, that birds will be allowed to go back outside ‘one the risk levels have reduced’ and ‘when current housing measures expire’.
Until that time though, free range eggs will be unavailable in the UK.
“Once the risk levels have reduced and the housing measures have been lifted by Defra, birds will be able to go outside again. Public health advice remains that the risk to human health from the virus is very low.”
“Food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products including eggs.”NFU statement