Billions of eggs laid and distributed across Europe were outlawed by new legislation that was set at the beginning of 2012, according to the British Lion Egg Processors (BLEP).
Over 12.5 billion eggs, which equates to around 625,000 tonnes of the products, were found to be laid by hens kept in battery cages. This practice was made illegal by the European Council (EC) over a year ago but many countries are still ignoring the new piece of legislation. The eggs are thought to be produced by as many as 20 million hens in non-compliant battery cages and it has led officials to urge operators to assess their supply chains.
While there were once 13 non-compliant European Union (EU) states at the beginning of 2012 when the ban on battery cages was first enforced this has dropped over the past year. The figure is now believed to stand at just two but officials still want to eradicate the problem so that hens are not having to live in intense battery farms to produce eggs.
Ian Jones, chairman of British Lion egg processors, said: "These figures are conservative estimates and in all likelihood production from non-compliant cages has actually been higher, but either way it’s just not acceptable and until it is stopped, there is a very real concern that egg products could be entering the UK supply chain."
Mark Williams, British Egg Industry Council chief executive, also accused the EC of failing to hold the countries that were still carrying out this practice to account. Mr Jones added that those who are importing egg products from Europe could be at risk of sourcing them from hens kept in cages.
The issue of battery farming has been widely promoted with celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall speaking out about the problem. The latter has launched a 'Chicken Out!' campaign which demands for higher welfare conditions for chickens farmed in the UK and has received the backing of Compassion in World Farming.