The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently launched a consultation on the Government’s proposal to remove the 16-week derogation period in egg marketing standards.
16 weeks is currently the maximum amount of time hens are allowed to be kept indoors during periods of mandatory housing orders before the eggs they lay may not be labelled as ‘free range’. If poultry is housed for longer than 16 weeks, the eggs must be labelled as ‘barn’ rather than ‘free range’.
In practice, the over-stickering of egg cartons, over-stamping of eggs and in-store shopper communication has proved to be costly and labour intensive. And some argue that it has led to confusion for the consumer.
The proposed removal of the derogation limit would mean eggs can be labelled as ‘free range’ no matter how long poultry have been housed indoors.
The consultation, which closes on 5th March 2024, stretches across England and Scotland and can be accessed here.