Freedom Food has defended its decision to accredit Dutch egg producers after UK free-range producers accused it of helping foreign suppliers take business away from domestic farms.

The certification body, subsidised by the RSPCA, recently started work on an initiative to help egg producers in the Netherlands gain Freedom Food accreditation. This is the first time the RSPCA has accredited Continental egg producers, although it has worked with Irish suppliers.

The move had sparked outrage among UK free-range producers, which have been struggling with rock-bottom shell egg prices. But Freedom Food CEO Leigh Grant said Dutch-certified eggs were unlikely to compete with British eggs. The initiative would create opportunities for UK barn and free-range producers because Freedom Food accreditation would raise Dutch production standards and costs.