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Avian flu restrictions

Avian Influenza restrictions: Removal of term ‘free-range’ from egg labelling

Following the introduction of the Avian Influenza housing order across the United Kingdom on 29th November 2021, an Avian Influenza Prevention Zone is still in place, to reduce the risk posed to poultry.

A fixed 16-week ‘grace period’ existed during which eggs from birds which were intended to be free-range may be marketed as free-range, despite housing restriction. This grace period expired on the 21st of March 2021.  

This means that, as of 21st March, the marketing of eggs must not reference ‘Free-range’ because hens have been housed beyond the 16-week grace period and would be in breach of legislation. The words free-range, like organic are legally protected.

This change only affects eggs being marketed as ‘free-range’ and does not impact organic labelling (unless the labels state ‘organic free-range’ etc):  

What this means for organic producers and packers 

  • You will only need to cover labelling if your packaging mentions the words ‘free-range’ 
  • You are still able to market ‘Organic’ 
  • Any reference to the ‘O’ for Organic, on the egg itself is also fine and does not need changing 
  • These changes will need to be in place until the housing order is lifted and the birds have access to the outdoor range again 

If you are a producer and would like any further support managing your birds during the housing restrictions, please get in touch with the producer team on 0117 914 2412.

The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA) have also created a dropbox folder of posters, images, and animations to help communicate the public key messages related to avian influenza if you wish to use.