Egg producers near Suffolk's bird flu outbreak will be allowed to carry on selling free range and organic eggs, even though the birds have been moved indoors.

Farming minister Jeff Rooker confirmed the exemption, which will affect about 100,000 laying birds. It means those forced to move flocks indoors can still label them as free-range or organic, providing all other usual production standards are met.

Industry leaders welcomed the move , saying they did not expect a consumer backlash. Jon Widdowson, at the British Free Range Egg Producers' Association, said shoppers should not be concerned about the welfare of the birds.

Charles Bourns, NFU poultry board chairman, said about 20 commercial producers were affected. "I don't think consumers will make anything of it. The birds won't be in for the full 12 weeks - they'll be let out as soon as possible."

Otherwise the affected producers would lose the 25p/dz premium that free-range eggs attract .