Producing and selling eggs

Visit our section on Welfare of hens and registration for information on keeping hens and registering establishments keeping laying hens.
If you are producing and selling eggs you must comply with the marketing rules set out in legislation. Please visit the section on egg legislation to access the legislation in detail

Eggs are defined as "eggs in shell — other than broken, incubated or cooked eggs — that are produced by hens of the species Gallus gallus and are fit for direct human consumption or for the preparation of egg products."

These rules do not apply to producers of small quantities of hen eggs. Get more information on what producers of small quantities of eggs must do

You should refer to the legislation for more detail but the following is a summary of the main areas covered:

Grading – Class A (fresh) and Class B
Marking the eggs
Labelling the packs
Information to be displayed for eggs sold loose
Information on transport packaging
Records to be kept by producers, collectors and packing centres


Grading eggs

Eggs must be graded by quality as follows:

  • Class A or ‘fresh’
  • Class B

Class A eggs must also be graded by weight, except for eggs delivered to the food and non-food industry.

Class B eggs must only be delivered to the food and non-food industry. 

 

'Food industry' is defined in Commission Regulation (EC) No 589/2008 as meaning any establishment producing egg products intended for human consumption, excluding mass caterers; and ‘non-food industry’ means any business producing products
containing eggs not intended for human consumption.

Class A eggs

Class A eggs must be graded by weight as follows:

XL - very large: weight = 73 g
L - large: weight = 63 g and < 73 g
M - medium: weight = 53 g and < 63 g
S - small: weight < 53 g

The weight grading must be indicated by the corresponding letters (XL, L, M or S) or terms (very large, large, medium or small) as defined above. You can also use a combination of both. You can also add the corresponding weight ranges.  

Other additional indications are allowed, provided they are not likely to be mistaken for the letters or terms defined above.

If different sizes of Class A eggs are packed together in the same pack, the minimum net weight of the eggs must be given in grams and the indication ‘Eggs of different sizes’ or equivalent terms must appear on the outer surface of the pack.

The label must also comply with Regulation 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers. You can get all the information on this legislation in our labelling section

Marking Eggs

Eggs must be marked at the production site or at the first packing centre the eggs are delivered to.

Producer Code

Class A eggs must be marked with the producer code. 

The producer code must consist of:

The code for the farming method
1 – Free range
2 – Barn
3 – Cages
O – where production is organic (see section on organic production)

It must also include the code for the Member State where the establishment is registered and the packing centre’s unique approval number. This requirement is detailed in Directive 2002/4/EC.

It must be easily visible and clearly legible and be at least 2 mm high. 

Class B eggs must be marked with the producer code and/or with another indication. This must be a circle at least 12 mm in diameter around the letter ‘B’ at least 5 mm high

Markings on egg packs

Eggs must be graded, marked and packed within 10 days of laying. However, eggs marketed as "Extra" or "Extra Fresh" must be graded, marked and packed within 4 days of laying.

Packs containing Class A eggs 

Must have on the outer surface, in easily visible and clearly legible type:

  • the packing centre code
  • the quality grading - packs must be identified either by the words ‘Class A’ or the letter ‘A’ whether alone or in combination with the word ‘fresh’
  • the weight grading
  • the date of minimum durability - must be marked at the time of packing. The date of minimum durability of a foodstuff is the date until which the food retains its specific properties when properly stored (defined in food information legislation). In the case of eggs, this date is fixed at not more than 28 days after laying. Where the period of laying is indicated, the date of minimum durability must be determined from the first day of that period
  • an indication advising consumers to keep eggs chilled after purchase. This indication is a ‘special storage condition’ required under the legislation on the provision of food information to consumers


The farming method must also be on the outer surface of the pack, in easily visible and clearly legible type. Only the following terms can be used:

  • for conventional farming, the terms ‘free range eggs’; ‘barn eggs’ or ‘eggs from caged hens’. These terms can only be used where the requirements set out in legislation for these production systems are met
  • for organic production, the terms set out in the legislation on organic production

The meaning of the producer code must be explained on or inside the pack.

Where laying hens are kept in enriched cages (see section on welfare of laying hens) you can also add the term ‘enriched cages’ to the indication of farming method.

Packs containing Class B eggs

These packs must have on the outer surface of the pack, in easily visible and clearly legible type:

  • the packing centre code
  • the quality grading - packs must be identified either by the words ‘Class B’ or the letter ‘B’
  • the packing date

Packs marked as 'Extra'

The words ‘extra’ or ‘extra fresh’ can be used as an additional quality indication on packs containing Class A eggs until the ninth day after laying of the eggs.

Where these indications are used:

 

  • the laying date and the time limit of nine days must be shown on the pack in such a way as to be easily visible and clearly legible
  • eggs must be graded, marked and packed within four days of laying

 

Information displayed on transport packaging

Each transport packaging containing eggs must be identified by the producer by:

  • the producer’s name and address
  • the producer code
  • the number of eggs and/or their weight
  • the laying date or period
  • the date of dispatch

In the case of packing centres supplied with unpacked eggs from their own production units, situated at the same site, identification on transport packaging may take place at the packing centre.

The information referred to the list above must be on the transport packaging and be contained in accompanying documents.  

A copy of those documents must be kept by any intervening operator to whom the eggs are delivered. The originals of the accompanying documents must be kept by the packing centre that grades the eggs.  

Where batches received by a collector are subdivided for delivery to more than one operator, the accompanying documents can be substituted by appropriate transport container labels, provided that these include the information referred to above.

The required information which is applied to the transport packaging must not be modified and must remain on the transport packaging until removal of eggs for immediate grading, marking, packing or further processing.

You must also take into account the general traceability requirements for all foods. See our Traceability section for more information

Eggs sold loose

For eggs sold loose the following information must be given in such a manner as to be easily visible and clearly legible to the consumer:

  • the quality grading
  • the weight grading
  • an indication of the farming method
  • an explanation of the meaning of the producer code
  • the date of minimum durability

Record keeping

Records to be kept by producers

Producers must record information on the farming methods, specifying for each farming method used:

  • the date of placing, age at placing and number of laying hens
  • the date of culling and the number of hens culled
  • daily egg production
  • the number and/or weight of eggs sold per day or delivered daily by other means;
  • the names and addresses of purchasers


Where the feeding method is indicated, the producer must record the following information, specifying for each feeding method used:

  • the quantity and type of feed supplied or mixed on site
  • the date of delivery of feed


Where a producer uses different farming methods on a single production site, the information referred above must be broken down by hen house.

Files of invoices and delivery notes marked as indicated above can be kept instead of keeping records of sales and deliveries.

Please also refer to the requirements for record keeping set out in the general food hygiene legislation (specifically Annex I, Part A.III).

Records to be kept by packing centres

Packing centres must record separately, by farming method and by day:

  • the quantities of ungraded eggs they receive, broken down by producer, giving the name, address and producer code and the laying date or period
  • after the eggs are graded, the quantities by quality and weight grade
  • the quantities of graded eggs received coming from other packing centres, including the code of those packing centres and the date of minimum durability
  • the quantities of ungraded eggs delivered to other packing centres, broken down by producer, including the code of those packing centres and the laying date or period
  • the number and/or weight of eggs delivered, by quality and weight grade, packing date in the case of Class B eggs or the date of minimum durability in the case of Class A eggs, and by purchaser, with the name and address of the purchaser.


Packing centres are required to update their physical stock records each week.

Where Class A eggs and their packs have an indication of how laying hens are fed, separate records with the information listed above must be kept.

Files of invoices and delivery notes that contain this information can be kept instead of keeping records of sales and deliveries.

 

Last reviewed: 21/10/2020

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