Why are free range eggs currently unavailable in the UK?

The Government, through the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) imposed a housing order on poultry kept across England, with devolved authorities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland following suit. This housing order was put in place for 16 weeks, from 29th November 2021 until 21st March 2022. However, due to recent outbreaks, the housing order will remain in place after the 21st of March.

This means that free range hens and poultry must be kept inside, and eggs previously classified as free range must be classified as barn eggs.

The reasoning is that, in doing so, contact between wild birds and farmed animals will be minimised – cutting the risk of the H5N8 strain of avian influenza (bird flu) that is now endemic across the European continent and infecting farms.

At Ocado we wanted to reassure you that the free range birds that supply our eggs, even though they may be housed, continue to be reared to the highest standards of animal welfare.

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