Egg farmerloses his lay-by row with EU

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The Independent Online

A free-range egg producer yesterday lost a battle against European Union bureaucracy when the High Court ruled against his practice of putting "laid between" date labels on his boxes of eggs.

Martin Pitt, a retired free-range egg producer, had persuaded magistrates two years ago that he should be entitled to put the stickers on his cartons. The stickers showed a three-day timespan within which each egg would have been laid, thus showing their freshness.

Lord Justice Schiemann, sitting with Mr Justice Astill, ruled that the "laid-between" labels "did not comply with [EU] legislation dealing with permissible methods of indicating the date of laying". The judge said one reason was that the regulations appeared to envisage only a single date being stamped on each pack - "another reason is that whatever is stamped on the pack must also be stamped on the eggs".

Mr Pitt, 66, whose eggs came from a farm at Marlborough, Wilts, called for a change in the regulations.

Hesaid: "It is very sad from the consumers' point of view.

"I feel very strongly that the consumer needs to know when an egg is laid."

Mr Pitt, who believed his eggs were salmonella-free, started his business with 70 chickens in 1959 and by the time he sold up last February had 50,000 chickens.

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