From the 1st February 2023, eggs that come from housed, originally free range flocks in Norfolk, Suffolk and parts of Essex now have to be labelled barn eggs.
In Lion registered packaging centres from the 1st February 2023, the printers will be reprogrammed to print a Barn PEN (2) on the eggs and all packaging will be labelled as barn eggs. When the housing orders are lifted, eggs at packaging centres will still be labelled as barn eggs for seven days to allow all eggs to be graded.
Even though parts of the country have not been housing their birds since October, all free-range flocks’ eggs will be relabelled at the same time to ensure that no egg producers in the UK are placed at a disadvantage. This was agreed with the British Retail Consortium, a representative of UK retailers.
The British Egg Industry Council also added that this move will help the supply chain to run smoothly and prevent errors, such as the downgrading of eggs and also remove any confusion for the consumer.
This comes 16 weeks after a regional housing order was put in place on the 12th October 2022 and follows Egg Marketing Standards Regulations. The impact of avian influenza (AI) and the concern that eggs labelled as barn eggs will have a negative impact on consumers are a real concern for UK egg producers. Adding to the concerns are that the EU has proposed relaxing the 16 week rule sparking fears of the risk of unfair competition. In response the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is debating whether to relax the rules and extend them to over four months where they can still be labelled as free range.
Robert Gooch the Chief Executive of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association (BFREPA) stated:
“It’s very necessary that the UK aligns with the EU, otherwise retailers will import eggs labelled as free range from housed hens in the EU in the event of an AI epidemic when there are none on the UK market.”
What are the labelling rules at present?
In the meantime the rules mean that eggs have to be sold in printed boxes as barn eggs, or over-stickering the older stock of free range boxes with a barn egg sticker. The sticker must obscure the free range notification and be sufficiently adhesive to not be dislodged. The label must be clearly visible and legible.
Mark Spencer the UK Farming Minister said:
“We hope the labelling concessions announced today will help ease the burden industry is facing.”
Biosecurity is key to protecting our egg producing flocks
With British poultry now housed in close quarters for their protection this does not mean that UK farmers can forgo their usual biosecurity protocols.
Now more than ever, having robust biosecurity in place is incredibly important. A small mistake or lapse in preventative measures can allow disease to gain access to your birds. In the warmth generated by the animals in close proximity, disease can spread quickly, or an infestation of unwanted pests such as red mites, can explode amongst your flock.
Livetec are leaders in biosecurity. Our evidence based biosecurity plans go a long way to mitigating this risk of a disease outbreak. Our plans are unique to each farm business and are developed in partnership with the farm owner or manager to slip seamlessly onto the day-to-day running of your business.
To find out more contact a Biosecurity Adviser here and see how Livetec can help you protect your hens and livelihood.