Why will free-range eggs not be available from next week?


ree-range eggs are going to disappear from supermarket shelves from Monday.

The move comes following an outbreak of bird flu which meant farmers had to move all their chickens indoors.

Supermarkets are to put new labels on egg boxes, changing the term “free-range eggs” to “barn eggs”.

They will also add signs to explain the switch.

This means barn eggs will be sold for the first time in years at some stores, including Sainsbury’s and Morrisons, which have policies to only sell free-range eggs.

Free-range eggs account for around 70 per cent of all eggs sold in stores, according to figures from data firm Kantar.

The step to change the classification follows official guidance from ministers for egg suppliers and vendors.

They have allowed a 16-week grace period for free-range eggs, but that this had now been exceeded.

Regulators typically strip eggs of their “free-range status” if the animals are kept inside for more than 16 weeks.

This had previously been 12 weeks but was extended in 2018.

New laws were brought in last November to ensure farmers kept their chickens indoors over the “largest ever outbreak of avian flu”.

Information from thee Government suggests that, between November and February, there were more than 100 confirmed cases of bird flu.

UK chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said the UK is “still seeing a number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across the country”.

Poultry keepers risk being fined if they do not keep their birds indoors.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that, now the grace period was over for free-range eggs and “eggs must now be marketed as ‘barn eggs’”.

Eggs will need to be stamped with different codes showing that they are now deemed barn eggs.

Free-range egg boxes will still be allowed to be used, but another sticker or label will also need to be placed onto them to show that they are technically now barn eggs.


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