March 21, 2022 11.39 am

No free-range eggs in UK supermarkets after bird flu outbreak moved hens indoors

Outbreak saw thousands of birds culled in Lincolnshire

The largest ever bird flu outbreak in the UK, which hit farms across the country this winter, means free-range eggs will no longer be available in British supermarkets.

From Monday, March 21, eggs sold in supermarkets will have to carry a sticker or label saying they are ‘barn eggs’, due to them being produced by hens that permanently stay indoors.

It is a direct result of a large outbreak of avian flu last winter, described by government officials as the largest outbreak of bird flu ever, as more than 80 cases were reported across England.

Thousands of chickens were culled after a bird flu outbreak in Lincolnshire. | Photo: Open Cages

Birds reared for meat and eggs have been ordered to be kept indoors since November by the British government, and the length of time they have spent inside now means the produce cannot be referred to as free-range.

Lincolnshire was one of the worst affected regions in the country, and it resulted in thousands of farm chickens being culled, as per the rules surrounding birds exposed to Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1.

Harrowing video footage of chickens being culled at a farm in Alford, Lincolnshire was shared with The Lincolnite by animal welfare group Open Cages, with there now being fresh calls for the government to ban factory farming.

The housing order on birds has hit the farming industry hard, but with the warm weather coming it is expected the rules will be lifted in the coming weeks or months.

The prevention zones for avian influenza in Lincolnshire, with multiple areas highlighted for surveillance, destruction and protection in the county. | Photo: Animal & Plant Health Agency

At the time of reporting, there were more than a dozen control zones along the East coast of Lincolnshire, in areas such as North Somercotes, Grimsby, Alford and Mablethorpe.

To view the government response to bird flu outbreaks and current restrictions in place, visit the government website for guidance on Avian Influenza.