Egg production has taken another step towards normality in the avian influenza Protection and Surveillance Zones in East Yorkshire.
On Wednesday (26 November) Defra confirmed that a general licence was now available for the movement of table eggs from the zones to a designated packing centre.
While the producer still has to inspect the poultry and contact the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) at Worcester to confirm the birds have no signs of avian influenza, the licence itself is ongoing.
Previously table eggs could only be moved under a specific licence. Producers had to apply to the APHA for a new licence of every single egg movement, and then had just 24 hours to complete the process.
The British Egg Industry Council has welcomed the change. “Unlike broilers, which only need to be moved every few weeks, table eggs need to be moved every day,” said chief executive Mark Williams. “This is a huge step forward.”
He also welcome the fact that producers can now use plastic keyes trays, rather than only disposable ones.
Other conditions of the general licence include that the producer keeps a record of the movement for at least six weeks, and that the collecting vehicles’ wheels and wheel arches are cleansed and disinfected before leaving the farm, and after unloading at the packing centre.
Egg packers with contracted producers in the restriction zones say the situation is gradually easing.
Chippendale Foods, which has three producers with six units affected, said things had been pretty tight at the end of the first week of movement restrictions.
The Lion Code requires that eggs are graded within six days of being laid. “We had a couple of pallets that were a day or two beyond this, but got a special dispensation subject to having a shorter ‘best before’ date,” said a company spokesman.
Stuart Elliot of Eggsell, which has two producers in the zones, said it had taken a couple of days between filling in the forms and getting the licence, but the eggs had been graded within the allowable timeframe.
In the absence of any further cases, it is understood that the restriction zone will stay in place until 21 December at the earliest.