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Free-range eggs set to return to supermarket shelves across Gedling borough

Hens and other captive birds have been under lockdown since last November due to the worldwide outbreak of avian influenza.

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Shoppers across Gedling borough will be able to buy free-range eggs and chicken for the first time in five months when a nationwide compulsory housing order on poultry is lifted this week.

Hens and other captive birds have been under lockdown since last November due to the worldwide outbreak of avian influenza.

Defra has announced that the mandatory housing measures will be lifted from a minute past midnight on Tuesday, April 18.

The nationwide housing order was introduced last November as bird flu spread rapidly through the UK’s poultry flock and wild birds.

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It meant that eggs laid by hens who normally had access to outside areas, and chickens produced for meat, could not be marketed as free range.

From tomorrow, producers in most of England and Wales can label their eggs and meat as free range again.

The exceptions are where local protection zones are in place due to a specific outbreak of bird flu at a farm or other premises.

British Poultry Council chief executive Richard Griffiths said: “This has been a testing time for the poultry meat industry, so we welcome the lifting of the housing order that comes with the reduction of the risk level.

“Reduced risk does not mean no risk: the health of our birds remains the priority for our members up and down the country. We urge all bird keepers to maintain effective biosecurity throughout the year to avoid any incursion of potential infection and minimise impact on international trade.”

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Defra said poultry and captive bird keepers must cleanse and disinfect clothing, footwear, equipment and vehicles before and after contact with their flock and, if practical, use disposable protective clothing.

Avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. There is no impact on the consumption of properly cooked poultry products, including eggs.

Bird keepers should report suspicion of disease in England to the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.

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