| 0.9°C Dublin

Now 'barn eggs' will replace 'free range' due to bird flu

Close

Egg producer Denis O’Connell with his hens in Co Monaghan Picture: Philip Fitzpatrick

Egg producer Denis O’Connell with his hens in Co Monaghan Picture: Philip Fitzpatrick

Egg producer Denis O’Connell with his hens in Co Monaghan Picture: Philip Fitzpatrick

Egg cartons will have a new label for those that are technically not 'free range' but the chickens are free to roam under cover.

The move comes after the Department of Agriculture confirmed that the egg and poultry sector will no longer be able to use the 'free range' term after March 17.

This is due to regulations requiring flock keepers to keep their poultry in a secure building in a bid to prevent the spread of bird flu.

This means that all eggs sold in cartons, or on menus, will not be able to use the term 'free range'.

For eggs currently labelled as 'free range', EU rules require that producers must detail how the hens were kept and because all poultry has been housed for the past number of weeks, the eggs do not qualify for 'free range' status.

According to the department all previously free range eggs will now have to be classified as 'barn eggs'.

It says the indication 'barn eggs' can include the following statement "barn eggs - laid by hens temporarily housed for their welfare".

Because legislation requires that the farming method is detailed on the outside of cartons, the new label will also appear on the outside of egg cartons. According to the department, the label must be easily visible and clearly legible.

According to the new guidelines, any reference to 'free range' on the label must be removed or covered over.

The sticker must adhere to the label and not be easily removed.

The sticker could contain the indication 'barn eggs' or 'barn eggs - laid by hens temporarily housed for their welfare'.

Under law, business owners will need to either remove any references to 'free range' on the menu and if this is not possible a sticker which obscures any reference to 'free range' on the label could be used.

The status of the eggs laid once the confinement order is lifted will be considered as 'free range'.

Irish Independent