Organic egg producers will retain their organic status indefinitely if they are forced to bring their flocks indoors as a measure to prevent the spread of avian flu.
The Brussels ruling has shocked conventional free-range egg producers, who will only be able to retain free-range status for up to 12 weeks if their birds are shut in. John Widdowson of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association said even organic producers had been surprised.
He added: "One explanation for the double standard is that organic producers are offering a range of benefits covering feed, stocking and medication rules. But in the event of a long-term shut-in the situation will surely confuse the consumer."