Free range eggs and poultry

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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.

Background

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, and similar restrictions were introduced in Scotland and Wales.  This meant that all eggs, poultry and products with egg and poultry ingredients had to carry a sticker notifying customers that these products could no longer be classed as free range. 

Current situation

Defra has now lifted the prevention zone order which means that, as of 13 April 2017, eggs can once more be classed as free range.  From 11 May 2017, chickens can be classed free range and from 18 May 2017 organic chickens can be classed as free range.

Free range classification of products that contain egg or poultry ingredients depends on when the product was produced.  This means there may be some products in our stores that do not contain free range ingredients.  However, all our stores will continue to highlight this in their store communications.

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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