How Do You Like Your Eggs?

Author:Mr Craig Houston

It's a quintessential breakfast question. Fried, boiled, poached, scrambled? Exactly the kind of vexing question you hope for of a lazy weekend. Indeed, whilst the myriad of ways to enjoy your eggs subsists, the choice of product on the shelf has seen something of a culture shift such that 'Free Range' is the consumer choice. Concerning then, that 'free range' eggs are currently facing a fight for their protected places on shop shelves.

Cholesterol on the rise

The recent Avian Flu outbreak across Europe has been raising cholesterol across the industry since December of last year when the government issued a prevention order requiring farmers to keep their birds inside to help prevent the spread of the disease. EC regulations meaning free range eggs cannot be marketed as such after 12 weeks of hens being housed inside. With the government restrictions ending on 28 February (save for around a quarter of British farmers in high risk zones), there may be some respite for farmers worried at the prospect of premium product pricing taking a hit when margins are already slim.

Dutch farmers cursing Commission Regulation (EC) No 589/2008 of 23 June 2008 have already failed in a legal challenge to overturn the proviso of Annex 2, 1(a) of the same, which pronounces; "In case of other restrictions, including veterinary restrictions, adopted under Community law to protect public and animal health, having the effect of restricting access of hens to open-air runs, eggs may continue to be marketed as 'free-range eggs' for the duration of the restriction, but under no circumstances for more than 12 weeks;". An entirely reasonable restriction in nearly any circumstance, the present one excepted it seems. The delicate balance between rigorously protecting standards and that of sympathising and allowing for exceptional circumstance is often the greatest trial law-makers and lawyers face.

As attempts to persuade the EU to temporarily relax regulation stutter, sympathy from other parts of the beleaguered dairy industry is probably in short supply. It's not that such sentiment and support isn't mutual, but as recent rumbles over the price of milk have shown, each have their own survival problems to contend with.

The whims of a well-kent chef

Rather than free range eggs setting a precedent for the same standards of quality and welfare and taking a foothold across the dairy and poultry sectors, many parts of it languished at the mercy of supermarket pricing, and individual indifference...

To continue reading