Despite the new law, it is expected that many EU countries will flaunt the ban and continue to use the cages, leading to concerns from the UK egg industry that the illegal products will be sold to UK manufacturers and retailers.
However, with a third of EU caged hens predicted to remain in conventional battery cages beyond the January deadline, James Paice Minister of State for Agriculture and Food has pledged his support for the UK industry.
Paice warned that any firms who use illegally produced eggs or egg products will be “breaking both the letter and spirit of the law”. It needed to be made clear to owners of branded products that the law also applies to their ingredients, he added.
Andrew Parker, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council, welcomed the Ministers announcement at yesterday’s Egg & Poultry Industry Conference.
He said: “Food manufacturers and retailers need to know that they will be exposed if they do not ensure that all the eggs they use are fully compliant with the new legislation.
“We welcome the Ministers commitment to take action to ensure that illegally-produced eggs do not undermine British egg producers who have invested 400M in higher-welfare colony cages to meet the deadline.”
The Minister’s pledge follows last month’s report from the British Egg Industry Council that said illegal imports were a major threat to the UK industry and could cost “thousands of jobs”.