In 2009 we became the first of the big supermarkets to sell only cage-free fresh eggs, which meant that all our eggs were either free range or barn eggs, and since 2012, we have also only used cage-free eggs as an ingredient in our own brand foods.
To prevent avian influenza spreading in the bird population, in December 2016 Defra issued a prevention zone order in England, making farmers keep all birds inside to stop the spread of the disease. Similar restrictions were introduced in Scotland and Wales. This blanket approach has now been lifted, and different levels of zones have been introduced according to the farm’s location.
However, the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has put in place guidelines which mean all packs of British Lion eggs carry a sticker which states ‘Eggs laid by hens temporarily housed in barns for their welfare.’ You will also see temporary signage in our stores which provides you with further information. This requirement applies to every British Lion egg farmer across the UK. For further information, please visit www.freerange.co.uk.
What does this mean when I’m buying eggs, chicken and other poultry products?
Eggs: Under these guidelines, from 1 March 2017, all eggs will carry this sticker. This also applies to products where free range eggs are used as an ingredient.
Poultry: All our free range poultry, which includes chicken and turkey, is currently being temporarily housed in barns to protect them from avian flu. As a result, from 29 March 2017, all products that contain free range poultry, will carry a sticker indicating this alongside temporary information in our stores which states this.
What does this mean for the welfare of the birds?
When birds are being temporarily housed in barns, they are able to roam freely and all other elements of welfare standards are being maintained in line with strict industry guidelines.
What happens next?
As it currently stands, keeping birds indoors is extremely important to support farmers as well as ensuring the welfare of our flocks, which means we will continue to follow the guidelines. In the meantime, as a responsible retailer, we will keep you updated with further information and any changes to the guidelines as soon as we have them.
What is bird flu?
Avian influenza is a disease of birds. The H5N8 strain of the disease has been found in wild and farmed birds in the UK.
Is it harmful for me and my family?
No. Birds are being housed for their own welfare to protect them from catching bird flu. Public Health England advises that the risk to public health is very low and the Food Standards Agency has said there is no food safety risk for UK consumers and that properly cooked poultry and poultry products, including eggs, are safe to eat.
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