Proposed new label for eggs, as bird flu threatens to scupper 'free range' status
A new label is being proposed to deal with issues surrounding the use of the‘free range’ label, which poultry farmers will be no longer be able to use within weeks.
FarmIreland.ie can reveal that a new over-lay label explaining why ‘free range’ birds have been housed is being considered as a means to keep the use of the 'free-range' label which the poultry industry says is vital.
As a result of an increased risk of avian influenza affecting commercial poultry flocks in Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine introduced regulations requiring flock keepers to confine their poultry in a secure building, which wild birds or other animals do not have access to.
These regulations have a particular impact on free range poultry flocks, as EU regulations lay down detailed rules regarding marketing standards for eggs and poultry meat. These regulations set down minimum requirements that must be met to use the term 'free range'.
Under these regulations, to protect public and animal health, eggs and poultry meat can marketed as 'free range' for the duration of the restriction but not for more than 12 weeks.
In Ireland's case, the 12-week period expires on March 17.
Key industry stakeholders met with the Department of Agriculture this week to discuss practical solutions to the labelling free range poultry after 17 March should the restriction remain.
According to the Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle industry representatives are considering the proposals.