Egg producers in Wales have welcomed an announcement by the Welsh Government to increase the frequency and focus of inspections at egg processing facilities to make sure illegal eggs don’t enter the food chain once the 2012 conventional cage ban comes into effect.
Five factories in Wales are registered to receive eggs directly from the EU, and Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency inspectors will be placed in these facilities to ensure eggs entering the food chain only come from farms that comply with the conventional cage ban.
“Inspectors in Wales will inspect these premises as normal, but will refocus their efforts specifically to check imported eggs and undertake specific checks to determine whether those eggs are derived from hens reared in conventional cages,” said Welsh deputy minister for agriculture, Alun Davies AM, in a statement.
“Where inspectors find eggs they suspect have been produced in conventional cage systems, in contravention of the EU legislation, they will hold these eggs whilst an enquiry is lodged with the member state of origin to confirm the origin and integrity of the eggs.”
The Farmers’ Union of Wales (FUW) welcomed the move by the government, saying the inspections would help farmers defend their multi-million pound investment.
“Welsh egg producers have invested a large amount of money to ensure the industry complies with the conventional cage ban and general EU animal welfare standards, but elsewhere in Europe a large number of producers are not ready,” said FUW livestock, wool and marts committee chairman, Dafydd Roberts.
“Focusing efforts on inspecting and checking whether eggs that have been imported into Wales are derived from hens reared in conventional cages is therefore a welcome move. It has to be a level playing field, and if farmers here in Wales and the UK have to adhere to EU standards so should every other EU country.”