Buy British to avoid illegal eggs

George Lyon, Liberal Democrat MEP for Scotland, has warned consumers that they are still likely to be buying eggs that do not meet strict welfare standards as 2012 begins despite a ban coming into force.

George Lyon MEPGeorge Lyon MEPAs of 1st January 2012, all eggs produced in Europe should be produced from hens kept in high welfare systems or free range barns. But it is estimated that up to 51 million eggs, or a nearly a quarter of all EU production will still not meet those high welfare standards because 13 countries have failed to comply with the ban on cages.

UK producers have spent £400 million on meeting the new standards and all UK eggs are now produced to high welfare standards.

Although most of the big supermarkets have agreed not to sell illegal eggs or use them in their own brand product it could still prove difficult for consumers to tell the difference between eggs from banned sources and those that meet the new welfare standards.

Mr Lyon is advising consumers that the safest way to guarantee they are not purchasing illegal eggs is to buy British.

Commenting, Mr Lyon said:

"This ban on eggs from hens kept in cramped, cruel conditions is well overdue.

“UK farmers have respected the ban and spent millions of pounds upgrading their farms to meet the higher welfare standards.

“But that investment is under threat from the thirteen EU countries that have failed to implement the ban on battery cage production.

“Millions of eggs from these countries could flood the UK market and consumers will not know the difference as there is no mark or logo.

“While the UK Government has promised to take tough action on those who try to sell illegal eggs in the UK, in reality it is going to be for the consumer to demand that the eggs they buy come from happy, healthy hens.

“Consumers can only be sure they are not eating illegally produced eggs if they buy British and I would encourage them to demand assurances from their retailers when they make their purchases that the eggs and egg products have been produced in the UK.”