DEFRA has said housing measures for free-range poultry will remain “until further notice”, confirming that the 16-week derogation will be exceeded.

The government has accepted proposals from the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) surrounding changes to egg stamping and on-pack and in-store information.

Last week, we detailed how egg marketers will need to highlight that free-range eggs must be categorised as barn while the housing order remains in place.

Defra said a decision to lift the housing order would be made based on the weekly risk assessments.

The latest was produced on 14 March and says there had been three new outbreaks in the UK in the seven preceding days.

It concludes that the virus is still circulating in the UK, and the risk of avian influenza incursion remains unchanged.

Risk reduction

It says: “As the spring progresses the migratory ducks, geese and swans will depart the UK and Europe reducing the infection pressure, while sedentary wild bird species will disperse from their winter aggregates in the UK.

“This together with higher temperature and increased sunlight which inactivate the virus will reduce the wild bird risk in the coming months, although how rapidly cannot be predicted given the scale of the current epizootic.”