Avian Flu & Organic labelling
As you will be aware the UK Chief Vets have made a declaration of a national Prevention Zones which require all poultry keepers to prevent contact between their birds and wild birds. For commercial operations, this means that birds are housed at all times or have access to restricted areas of range that prevent contact with wild birds.
The current Avian Influenza (AI) Prevention Zones in England, Wales and Scotland are in place until the 28th of February at which time they will have been in force for 12 weeks. In Northern Ireland the 12 week period will be at an end on the 17th of March 2017. If the Prevention Zone is extended beyond 12 weeks (England, Scotland and Wales) it will not be possible to label or market eggs or poultry products with any reference to free range status. At this time it seems that there is a significant risk that the Prevention Zone will be extended. There are a number of confirmed AI outbreaks in commercial flocks and surveillance of wild birds is continuing to find deaths from the H5N8 strain of AI.
The use of the labelling term organic is controlled by different legislation from that which governs the ‘free range’ term. DEFRA has confirmed that products can still be labelled Organic regardless of the Prevention Zone restrictions on access to range, however, it is essential that all other aspects of management must continue to meet the organic standards.
You may already be working with the BEIC and other industry bodies on this matter and we are pleased to have this clarification from DEFRA on organic labelling. We have also issued Soil Association producers with advice on ensuring that birds have access to enrichment while they are indoors. For any more information on this please visit the site here:
We will be updating information on the website as we obtain it and will be ensuring there is information available for consumers on there as well when required.
If you have any questions or require further clarification regarding organic labelling and requirements during this period please speak to your Certification Officer. We will update you should we have any further information.