Bird flu has supermarket giant scrambling to keep fresh eggs in the aisles

Supermarket giant Coles has introduced limits on egg purchases due to a growing bird flu outbreak, as egg farmers focus on efforts to maintain supply of fresh and affordable eggs.

Jun 10, 2024, updated Jun 10, 2024
A shopper inspects eggs inside a Woolworths grocery store in Brisbane, Tuesday, April 19, 2011. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

A shopper inspects eggs inside a Woolworths grocery store in Brisbane, Tuesday, April 19, 2011. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING


The highly pathogenic H7N3 strain of bird flu has been detected on five farms in Victoria’s state’s southwest, with more than half a million chickens euthanised in an effort to stop the spread of the disease.

Coles customers in every state and territory can now only buy a maximum of two egg cartons, with the exception of Western Australia.

More than half a million chickens have been destroyed in a bid to stop the disease spreading. (Cathy Parker/AAP PHOTOS)
Coles says the limit is temporary but has not revealed how long it is expected to last.

“We are working closely with all of our suppliers to ensure eggs remain available for our customers and we are providing support to the industry in responding to the Avian Flu cases in Victoria,” a Coles spokesperson said.

Woolworths and Aldi do not have any limits on egg purchases and no other national stores have publicised limits.

Over the past seven weeks the virus has been detected on five farms linked to Farm Pride, Avgo, Surf Coast Eggs and another business.

The affected farms in Meredith, Lethbridge and Terang have been placed into lockdown with at least 580,000 birds euthanised.

Federal health minister Mark Butler said the chief medical officer has been regularly briefing him on the outbreak and stressed it was a different variant to forms of the disease oversees that have crossed over into humans.

“I know (Australians) will want to know that they’re going to have access to enough eggs to keep having the hearty Australian breakfast so we are taking this seriously,” Mr Butler told ABC TV.

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“This is a significant issue globally, the avian flu that it is sweeping the globe.

“I’m making sure that our government particularly is across any implications that might have for human health, at the moment we feel very confident about that but I know the agricultural industry is worried about this as well.”

Victorian Farmers Federation Vice-President and egg farmer Danyel Cucinotta said the industry is ramping up containment efforts to ensure eggs remain available and advised customers to shop around at local retailers.

“Victorian egg farmers are working hard to contain the risk of any further biosecurity outbreak and maintain a supply of fresh and affordable eggs,” Ms Cucinotta said.

Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Graeme Cooke has said eggs and poultry products from retailers do not pose a health risk and are safe to consume.

Avian influenza is a viral disease found across the globe that spreads between birds or when feed and equipment is moved between sites.

The United States has imposed restrictions on imports of Victorian eggs and poultry products.

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