Food manufacturers and retailers in the UK selling eggs or egg products produced from hens in conventional battery cages after the EU ban on such cages takes effect on January 1, 2012, will be breaking the law, confirmed the country’s Agriculture Minister James Paice.

The minister has pledged his strong support for the UK egg industry to ensure that manufacturers and retailers do not use illegal eggs. He has also welcomed the commitment from the British Retail Consortium that the UK’s major retailers will ensure that their cage-produced shell eggs, and their own-label products containing cage-produced eggs, will come from enriched cages. However, he said, it needs to be made clear to owners of branded food products that the law also applies to their ingredients and that any company using eggs produced in conventional battery cages after January 1 will be breaking both the letter and the spirit of the law.

“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," said Andrew Parker, British Egg Industry Council chairman. "We welcome the minister’s commitment to take action to ensure that illegally-produced eggs do not undermine British egg producers.”