March 23, 2022


Free-range eggs unavailable in the UK due to bird flu outbreaks



Consumers in the UK are no longer permitted to purchase free-range eggs in the UK because of the length of time the hens have been kept indoors because of bird flu outbreaks in the country, BBC News reported.


The eggs at retail will be labelled as barn eggs as the hens have been kept inside for over 16 weeks.


The UK Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said 55% of all UK eggs are free-range, which means the birds enjoy unlimited access to outdoor pastures during the daytime.


Free-range labels will return when hens are allowed to go outside.


Aimee Mahony, chief poultry adviser at the National Farmers' Union, said the government had advised that bird flu is still a major risk in the country.


Mahony said farmers were following strict stringent biosecurity measures and adapted hen houses to help birds feel more comfortable.


Barn eggs and free-range eggs meet RSPCA welfare standards because the hens are provided freedom and space to move, as well as perches for roosting and nest boxes.


The UK is experiencing is biggest outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N1 bird flu and various measures have been imposed to prevent the virus from spreading. It was first detected in November 2021 in North Yorkshire.


The government has enforced an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone. This means all bird keepers in the country, whether they are commercial farmers or own pet birds, must keep flocks indoors and follow strict biosecurity measures.


-      BBC News

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