We are thrilled to announce that today (1st November), the British Egg Industry Council (BEIC) has introduced a new minimum standard for UK barn egg production under the British Lion Quality Code of Practice.
This encouraging news follows announcements by major retailers to sell only cage-free eggs after 2025. The new standard significantly improves on EU legislation and prohibits the use of Combination, or ‘Combi’ Systems which are deemed too intensive.
It aims to not only deliver better welfare for laying hens but to create a level playing field for UK producers converting out of cages before the 2025 deadline.
Cut out the Combi Cage
Our Food Business team has been working directly with the egg industry to help protect UK hens from the threat of ‘Combi Cages’, a ‘cage free’ system that, at the flick of a door, becomes a cage.
From now on, any converted or newly built barns under the British Lion scheme will need to install good aviary design systems which feature a raft of welfare improvements including more space per hen* and enrichments (e.g. perches and pecking substrates such as straw bales or scattered grain), as well as superior nest boxes.
* Under the Lion Scheme maximum stocking density at the floor level will be limited to 16.5 birds/m2, compared to 18 birds/m2 in the German KAT Standard and no specified limit in EU legislation where stocking density at the floor level can exceed 22 birds/m2.
Better welfare - happier hens
Dr Tracey Jones, our Director of Food Business said: “We’ve worked closely with the BEIC and are fully supportive of this new barn standard. It significantly improves on weak legislation that otherwise permits the use of high stocking densities and highly intensive systems such as Combi Systems.
“This is a huge step forward for the welfare of British hens and we urge the government to back this new standard to avoid any imported eggs from lower welfare systems undermining our UK producers.”
We’ll continue to work with the BEIC to ensure that the new standard is adopted not only for retail shell eggs, but also for egg products, including those used as ingredients, across retail, food service and food manufacturing.
To find out more about the progress food companies are making towards meeting their 2025 cage-fee egg commitments, read our latest EggTrack report here.