1. Are all your hens inside a barn? When did this happen?
We don’t want our hens getting bird flu so some of the hens that provide our Free Range eggs, that live in the high risk areas outlined by DEFRA, are living inside following government orders.
2. Why are they inside?
The government have issued the ruling to stop the spread of ‘Bird (Avian) Flu’. The order was issued on December 6th 2016 following an outbreak of the disease in Europe. Since then, the government have identified high and low risk areas of the UK and, from 28th Feb, hens in the low risk areas are allowed outside while those in high risk areas have to remain inside.
3. How can you call your eggs are from Free Range hens when they are indoors?
All our eggs are Free Range. The move indoors, while unusual, was undertaken purely to help protect the flocks of birds and to keep them healthy and safe. The government have identified high and low risk areas of the UK and, from 28th Feb, hens in the low risk areas are allowed outside while those in high risk areas have to remain inside. The majority of our hens are in low risk areas and will be allowed outside from 28th Feb.
4. How long will your hens be inside?
This will be decided by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Matters). In line with the UK egg industry and other retailers, we will follow government orders and keep the hens who live in high risk areas inside for as long as we are advised to.
5. What will you do if the DEFRA ruling stays in place for a long time?
In line with the UK egg industry and other retailers, we will follow government orders and keep the hens who live in high risks areas inside for as long as we are advised to.
6. How long do the hens have to remain inside for before they can no longer be termed Free Range?
After the initial 12 weeks is ended, hens who continue to live inside can no longer be officially called Free Range.
7. What are you doing to tell customers about this?
We want to be very clear and up front with our customers about the situation affecting the UK Free Range egg industry, so we are putting lots of additional information into the stores with notices and point of sale signs. From 28th February, all Free Range egg boxes will carry an industry sticker to tell customers of the change in status from Free Range
8. Why aren’t you changing the labelling on your egg boxes?
We are following guidance from DEFRA and relevant industry bodies who have advised that all Free Range egg boxes should carry an industry sticker to tell customers of the change in status from Free Range. This will be implemented from 28th February and we will also continue to have lots of information in store and on our website.
9. Are you members of the British Egg Industry Council? Do your eggs carry the Lion mark?
Yes we are and as a subscriber to the Lion Code, we will be sticker our egg packs in line with BEIC requirements. These state:
BEIC members plan to label all free range eggs, indicating that the hens are currently being kept inside, to ensure both that individual producers are not penalised if veterinary advice is for their hens to remain inside to ensure their health, and that consumers are not confused by what they could perceive to be inconsistent labelling.
From 1st March until 30th April 2017, all BEIC members’ free range packs will have stickers on saying that the eggs have been laid by hens currently kept in barns. There will also be signs near where eggs are sold highlighting this and a website has been set up – www.freerangeinfo.com – for further information for consumers.
10. What conditions are the hens kept in when inside barns?
The health of our hens is the priority and under Government orders they are temporarily living indoors to stop them getting bird flu. The hens are kept in dry, well lit barns and their feeding patterns are unchanged. The birds are still free to roam around the space inside the shed. Producers will place more objects such as toys or bales of straw to provide more distraction or entertainment for the birds.
11. What is Avian Flu?
Avian flu, which is sometimes called bird flu refers to flu caused by viruses that infect birds and make them ill. It is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The infection can cause different symptoms in birds, ranging from mild illness, which may pass unnoticed, to fatality.
12. Can humans catch it?
It is extremely rare for a human to catch Avian flu and where this has occurred it is as a result of direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments. One human cannot pass it to another. There is no evidence that the avian influenza viruses can infect humans through properly cooked food.