Eggs, poultry: the mention “open air” on the packaging may be false

For consumers who are fans of eggs, chickens, all kinds of poultry raised “in the open air”, 60 Millions de consommateurs wanted to provide some details in connection with the current avian flu epidemic. Since autumn 2021, the H5N8 influenza virus has affected a large number of farms. As of April 15, the association specifies, there were nearly 1,300 households in France. Several departments are thus concerned by containment measures for their poultry. This is made compulsory by the Ministry of Agriculture, because if the bird flu has no particular risk for women and men, it can be devastating for poultry.

However, for these birds, some of which have never seen outside life, as for the Red and Organic Label, with slaughter after three months, it is by no means compulsory to remove the mention “raised in full”. Omission of truth or lie, some will judge, but it is legal. “We don’t know when this situation will end, and it’s too long and complicated to change the packaging”, judges Philippe Juven, president of the CNPO, the National Committee for the Promotion of Eggs. But these “free-range” products are more expensive than the other so-called “classic” ones. Most packaging does not report these recent events and always has the same formula attached, which can mislead consumers.

According to the legislation of the European Union, this duration of confinement can go up to 16 weeks maximum, if the sanitary conditions require it, specifies 60 Million consumers. This deadline having been exceeded in several cases, an exemption was granted by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention, like that which had already been granted in 2021. In other words, it is always possible to register the mention “eggs from free-range hens” for breeders.

Nevertheless, the latter received a letter which specifies that it is advisable “to affix at the entrance of the store, at the level of the sales department of shell eggs and on the online sales sites the following mention: ‘hens raised in open air (codes 0 and 1) temporarily confined at the request of the authorities'”, details the association, which nevertheless deplores that it is not always registered on certain references, in particular on the Internet. She also denounces a lack of transparency.

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