Northern Foods has said that it is fully compliant with a voluntary agreement set up by the UK government urging manufacturers and retailers to abstain from using battery eggs.

Earlier this month, EU legislation came into force banning cage egg production. However, producers in 13 EU countries, including Spain, Italy and Poland, have not fully complied with the ban, prompting The British Egg Industry Council to call for a ban on battery eggs from EU countries.

While The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has insisted it cannot introduce unilateral restrictions, the government department has instead pointed to a voluntary agreement among UK manufacturers and retailers not to use battery eggs.

To date, manufacturers and retailers including Greencore, Asda, Ferrero UK, Iceland Foods and Morrisons have all signed up to the pledge. Seven firms, including Northern Foods, are not yet on the list.

A spokesperson for Northern, however, told just-food today that it is fully compliant with the agreement and that it has "simply not responded" to the NFU.

"No response does not mean we are not compliant," the spokesperson said. "We do not source any eggs from battery sources - most parts of the business have been doing this for a number of years, and following the takeover of Northern Foods by 2 Sisters Food Group last year, all parts of the group are compliant."

In an emailed statement, the company said: "As a major food manufacturer supplying a wide range of products under both retailer own brand and our own brands, we have clear policies and procedures in place which means we do not source any eggs from suppliers where eggs are laid by hens in battery cages."