The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has made changes to the EU egg marketing regulations.

Following the avian influenza outbreaks in the winter of 2016/2017, the European Commission has reviewed its EU Egg Marketing Regulations regarding the specific conditions that must be met for eggs to be marketed as ‘free range’.

As a result it has introduced, via Commission Delegated Regulation, changes that are needed to be aware of regarding the marketing standards and labelling for ‘free range’ eggs where hens’ access to open air runs is restricted.

Before these changes, the EU egg marketing standards stated that where there was a mandatory requirement to house birds to protect public and animal health, its eggs may continue to be marketed as ‘free range’.

This was made to be for the duration of the restriction, but not for a period exceeding 12 weeks. After the 12 weeks, eggs had to be marketed and labelled as ‘barn eggs’.

New changes have now been made by the Commission Delegated Regulation, and the 12 week derogation period has been extended to a 16 week period.

The derogation being applied must be on a ‘flock by flock’ basis.

Should the housing order exceed 16 weeks, egg producers must comply with the stamping and labelling requirements to show that eggs are classed as ‘barn eggs’.

Eggs may still be marketed as ‘free range’ as long as their access has not been restricted for more than 16 weeks.

The previous regulations required information on transport and documentation for eggs such as the producers name and address, the producer code, number of eggs and/or its weight, laying date/period and the date of dispatch.

In addition to this, the date of flock placement must also be stated.

To read the full regulations, click here.