The Bishop of St Albans received the following written answer on 7th December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans asked His Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the 16-week grace period during which eggs from birds that were intended to be free-range may be marketed as such despite the introduction of mandatory housing measures on 7 November.
Lord Benyon (Con): Egg Marketing Standards provides a 16-week derogation period during which the free-range description can be retained on eggs even if hens have been housed.
Defra currently has no plans to review this derogation period. However, in recognition of the pressures the egg sector is currently facing, particularly rising input costs alongside the impacts of Avian Influenza, Defra has granted a concession which will apply if the housing orders that are currently in place in England exceed the 16-week derogation period. This concession will allow producers and packers, on a one-off basis, the option to use either direct print to pack or an affixed label on free-range boxes. Accompanying clear and transparent point of sale signage should also be in place to ensure consumers are not misled and to avoid undermining consumer confidence in the free-range industry.