Oct 31st, 2022
5 mins

Due to the significant impact the Avian Influenza (AI) outbreak is having on many poultry keepers and farmers in England, Defra have announced that they will support in principle the freezing down of certain poultry products and the subsequent sale of them as ‘defrosted’ in the run up to Christmas.

This will mean that producers and processors have the option of slaughtering their birds early, which will reduce the risk of AI infection between now and the normal slaughtering time.

This will only apply to whole birds or crown of turkey, duck and goose, capons, and 2-3-bird roasts, as well as stuffed whole and crown of turkey, goose, and duck. No other poultry products such as chicken or processed products are included in the derogation.

Birds can be defrosted for sale to consumers between the dates of 28th November and 31st December 2022 only and should not be sold beyond this date. The use of a ‘use by’ date of 31st December, at the latest, will ensure this.

In compliance with food labelling regulations (particularly EU Regulation 1169/2011 (FIC) ) the designation “defrosted” must be prominent on the front of pack (principal field of vision). There must also, where appropriate, be in-store signage and online information for consumers.

The FSA’s view is that this flexibility does not in itself present any increased food safety risks to consumers, provided that, in accordance with food law:

  • industry freezes and thaws the product under suitable conditions;
  • these conditions are monitored;
  • there are measures in place to ensure that product sold as chilled has been

thoroughly defrosted;

  • the shelf life for defrosted product is appropriate.

Trading Standards Officers are being asked to apply a flexible and pragmatic approach in respect to this and Food Business Operators should consult with their Primary Authority or Trading Standards Officer in making these changes.

We would like to remind BFFF members that we have a series of co-ordinated Primary Authority partnerships with several different regulatory authorities. These include Cambridgeshire County Council Trading Standards and South Cambridgeshire District Council Environmental Health. If you or businesses wish to discuss this latest announcement or the challenges with Avian Influenza, please let know and we can arrange that for you.

Note: This derogation is for England and is awaiting confirmation in Wales. The Scottish Government are also considering the situation and should be communicating their decision shortly. It will not be available for affected products in NI due to the NI Protocol.


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