More than seven billion eggs have been produced by hens housed in battery cages banned by EU regulations.

The British Egg Industry Council estimates that the equivalent of 440,000 tonnes of egg, worth up to £700m, has been produced in non-compliant systems since the EU ban on ‘battery cages’ came into force on 1 January this year.

Ian Jones, chairman of British Lion Eggs Processors, said the estimate was conservative. “The scale of egg that has been produced from hens housed in non-compliant cages since the ban came in is horrendous and totally unacceptable.”

On 21 June, the European Commission sent a Reasoned Opinion - a final warning before referral to the EU Court of Justice - to 10 EU member states that were non-compliant with the battery cage ban. They comprised Belgium, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, France and Italy. The states have two months to inform the Commission of measures taken to ensure full compliance.

British Lion eggs and egg products are produced in cages which are compliant with the Welfare of Laying Hens Directive.