Free-range eggs return to supermarket shelves as bird flu threat reduces

·1-min read
It is expected the free-range eggs will start to appear on shelves within a few days from May 2 (PA Archive)
It is expected the free-range eggs will start to appear on shelves within a few days from May 2 (PA Archive)

Free-range eggs are returning to supermarket shelves after measures to curb bird flu cases were dropped.

For the past month, free-range produce had to have stickers or labels marking them as “barn eggs”.

But poultry will no longer need to be housed under netting or other protective measures from Monday, May 2.

Free-range eggs typically account for around 70 per cent of all eggs sold in shops.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) introduced the safety requirements in November last year after an outbreak of avian flu.

The move to allow birds back outdoors comes after the risk of bird flu was reduced from "high" to "medium" for zones where there is poor biosecurity.

In a joint statement, the UK’s four chief veterinary officers said: “Whilst the lifting of the mandatory housing measures will be welcome news to bird keepers, scrupulous biosecurity remains the most critical form of defence to help keep your birds safe.

“It is thanks to the hard work of all bird keepers and vets, who have played their part in keeping flocks safe this winter, that we are in a position to take this action. However, the recent cases of avian influenza show that it’s vital that bird keepers remain vigilant for signs of disease and maintain stringent standards of biosecurity.”

The UK has faced its largest ever outbreak of bird flu with more than 100 cases confirmed across the country since late October.

Public health advice is that the risk to human health is very low. The Food Standards Agency and Food Standards Scotland advise that avian influenza poses a very low food safety risk for UK consumers, and it does not change their current advice on consumption of poultry products including eggs.

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