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Labelling of Free Range Poultry and Eggs from 17th March

Friday, 10 March 2017

Background

As a result of an increased risk of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) affecting commercial poultry flocks in Ireland, the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM) introduced Regulations on 23rd of December 2016 under the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2013 requiring flock keepers to confine all poultry and captive birds in their possession or under their control in a secure building to which wild birds, or other animals do not have access and to apply particular bio-security measures. The Regulations, entitled Avian Influenza (Precautionary Confinement of Birds) Regulations 2016, provide for precautionary measures, against avian influenza (bird flu). 

DAFM has extended this confinement period to 30 April due to the continued findings of HPAI H5N8 in wild birds in Ireland and as a precautionary measure to protect the internationally recognised high health status of the national poultry flock. DAFM will be keeping this decision under regular review.

EU Rules

The EU Regulations which set down minimum requirements that must be met in order to use the term “Free Range” on poultrymeat and eggs include rules around access to open-air runs and vegetation. The Regulations also provide for situations where veterinary restrictions are imposed to protect public and animal health, as is the case currently in Ireland, whereby eggs and poultrymeat may continue to be marketed as “Free Range” for the duration of the restriction but not for more than 12 weeks. In Ireland, the 12 week period commenced on the 23rd December 2016 and will expire from the 17th March.

Irish Legislation

What does the decision to continue to confine birds until at least 30th April mean in regard to the term ‘Free Range’?

 

The continued confinement of all birds as a precautionary measure against avian influenza (bird flu) since 23rd December means that these birds or eggs produces by them will no longer have ‘Free Range’ status from the 17th March 2017.

What does this mean for food businesses?