Free Range Eggs

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Impact of Avian Flu on Free Range Eggs in East of England Co-op

A number of Free Range hens across the country are currently being kept indoors on Government advice to protect them from avian flu. These preventative measures have been put in place in order to protect the birds from the disease. This means that they are no longer able to be classed as Free Range.  Although the hens will be temporarily living indoors to stop them getting bird flu, they will continue to be kept in dry, well lit barns and their feeding patterns are unchanged. The birds are still free to roam around the space inside the shed. Producers will place more objects such as toys or bales of straw to provide more distraction or entertainment for the birds.

The Government has identified high and low risk areas, and from 28th February 2017, farmers in the areas seen as high risk will be required to keep all hens indoors. The low risk areas will be able to continue to keep their chickens outside.

To help make this change clear to our customers, our suppliers will be including a sticker on the boxes of eggs to explain this situation, and allowing us to continue to support British egg producers.

At this time, where packaging lists free range eggs as an ingredient, the eggs used will not currently be free range.

We want to make sure that all of our customers understand how avian flu is affecting the egg industry, so we’re ensuring there is information available to you in all of our stores.

  • What is Avian Flu?

    Avian flu (H5N8 strain of the disease), which is sometimes called bird flu refers to flu caused by viruses that infect birds and make them ill. It is an infectious disease of birds caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. The infection can cause different symptoms in birds, ranging from mild illness, which may pass unnoticed, to fatality.

  • Can humans catch it?

    It is extremely rare for a human to catch Avian flu and where this has occurred it is as a result of direct contact with infected animals or contaminated environments. One human cannot pass it to another. There is no evidence that the avian influenza viruses can infect humans through properly cooked food.

  • When will this restriction be lifted?

    The restrictions that have been stated by the government are location specific, so we are unable to confirm when these will be lifted as we have a number of different producers, with farms across the country.

  • What about products that state they include Free Range Eggs?

    Where a product states it includes Free Range Eggs as an ingredient, this will not be the case while the restriction is in place.

If you require further information about the Avian Flu outbreak please contact:

DEFRA Helpline:

Tel: 03459 335577



Food Standards Agency:

Tel: 020 7276 8829