Shoppers who prefer to choose free-range eggs at UK supermarkets will no longer be able to as of today (21 March).
Fears of avian flu outbreaks means chickens have been kept indoors and haven't been able to wander outside, which enabled them to be given the 'free-range' tag.
UK government officials have described it as the 'largest-ever outbreak of avian flu' over the winter months.
In a statement cited by The Guardian, a spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: "The 16-week grace period we allowed for free-range eggs has now been exceeded, and eggs must now be marketed as ‘barn eggs’.
"We have worked closely with the sector and retailers to implement these changes as smoothly as possible."
So until further notice, you'll have to buy 'barn eggs' rather than 'free-range'.
However, The British Retail Consortium is confident 'when the current measures are lifted, eggs will go back to being free-range'.
Supermarkets are expected to provide signs to explain the change to shoppers.
Egg producer Daniel Brown, who typically has 40,000 free-range hens wandering his land, told The Guardian his birds have so far coped well indoors as he gave them 'extra things in the shed like hay and grit to give them things to peck at and keep them amused'.
Brown expressed hopes the housing order will be lifted soon as avian flu outbreaks usually drop off as temperatures begin to rise.
He explained: "A chicken won’t be bothered about not going outside in December and January, but when it’s nice in May they’ll want to be out late into the evening."
UK Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: "We have taken swift action to limit the spread of the disease including introducing housing measures.
"However we are still seeing a number of bird flu cases both on commercial farms and in backyard birds right across the country.
"Many poultry keepers have excellent biosecurity standards but the number of cases we are seeing suggests that not enough is being done to keep bird flu out.
"Whether you keep just a few birds or thousands you must take action now to protect your birds from this highly infectious disease.
"The avian flu outbreak has not gone away and implementing scrupulous biosecurity remains absolutely critical.
"You must continue to regularly clean and disinfect your footwear and clothes before entering enclosures, stop your birds mixing with any wild birds and only allow visitors that are strictly necessary.
"It is your actions that will help keep your birds safe."
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
Topics: UK News