Defra has confirmed there will be no ban on the import in the UK of products containing illegally produced eggs from January 2012, when the barren battery cage ban comes into force across the European Union.
As a result, Compassion in World Farming is warning consumers that they could unwittingly be eating illegal eggs in the New Year.
But there is an easy solution. Compassion's director of Public Affairs, Joyce D'Silva, said: "This means consumers will have to be extra vigilant. We'd say the best way to be sure you're not eating illegal and cruelly-produced eggs is to check that the label on your pasta, cake or ready meal says that any eggs are free range or organic."
She added: "It's terrible that we are in this position in the first place - the ban was voted for in 1999. There should be red faces in some European countries. Given the years they've had to prepare for this ban, there are no excuses. We are calling on the European Commission to prosecute those countries who have failed to comply."
Joyce said: "The EU should be rightfully proud of the ban on barren cages. It's a great achievement for animal welfare. It's essential now to make sure that the ban is properly enforced, so consumers can buy products with confidence that they don't contain illegal eggs."
Animal welfare landmark
A landmark piece of EU animal welfare legislation comes into force on 1st January 2012, making the use of barren battery cages for egg-laying hens illegal throughout the European Union (EU). But 13 EU states are likely to be non-compliant, with 84 million hens still stuck in the cages. In a written ministerial statement yesterday, Jim Paice MP confirmed there would be no unilateral ban in the UK on imports of illegal eggs in the New Year.
Go to our The Big Move webpage to ask the Commission not to let non-compliant nations get away with flouting the ban: http://www.ciwf.org.uk/our-campaigns/egg-laying-hens/