Compassion in World Farming is shocked to learn that some egg farmers in the UK are still using barren battery cages, despite assurances that the UK would be fully compliant with the ban on these cages when it came into force on 1st January this year.
According to percentage figures issued by Defra, the illegal cages could contain as many as 300,000 hens.
Compassion's Chief Policy Advisor, Peter Stevenson, says: "After continued assurances that the UK will fully comply with the ban on these inhumane cages, we are shocked and saddened to learn that this isn't the case. The barren battery cage ban was agreed in 1999, there is no excuse for farmers not to have been compliant when it came into force at the beginning of this year.
"While the number of hens estimated to be still stuck in these cages is lower than in countries like Spain or Italy, the number remaining in the battery cage system in the UK is by no means negligible. We urge the government to take steps to ensure that these illegal cages are replaced with compliant systems as a matter of urgency. In the meantime retailers should not sell these eggs as the sale of battery eggs is illegal."
According to figures submitted to the European Commission last year, the UK was one of 14 countries that was expected to be barren battery cage free by 1st January 2012.
The British egg industry has lobbied the UK government for a unilateral trade ban on the import of egg products to ensure no eggs produced in the now illegal system entered the country this year. The worry was British farmers who had spent considerable time and money converting to the new so-called "enriched" cage system or to barn or free-range systems would be undercut by cheaper imports from the illegal system.
"It is unfair on British farmers who have invested heavily in complying with the ban that they should have to compete with illegally produced eggs at home as well as from abroad," adds Peter.