Free-range Eggs have vanished from supermarket shelves in the UK as hens are kept in lockdown after the biggest ever surge of avian flu.
Since November last year, chickens and other birds have been forced into confinement due to the ongoing nationwide outbreak.
After the expiration of a government grace period, cartons of eggs typically labelled as “free-range” are now required to be labelled as “barn eggs” instead.
Supermarkets will place signs informing customers of the changes in their stores, with eggs either put in new packaging or carrying stickers.
According to Andrea Martinez-Inchausti, assistant director of food at the British Retail Consortium, eggs can no longer be branded as free-range due to the government’s introduction of measures to keep all birds in lockdown to protect the animals.
Currently, bird keepers across Great Britain are legally obliged to keep their birds indoors and act under strict biosecurity measures to curtail the spread of disease in poultry.
Since November, farmers were forced to keep hens indoors but could still preserve the free-range status for eggs as long as they had not been kept inside for over 16 weeks. However, with the avian flu lockdown extending, the grace period has expired on Monday.
A spokesperson from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs stated that it is crucial to keep all birds indoors amidst the largest ever outbreak of avian flu in the UK to protect poultry and other birds from the highly infectious disease.