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The advice sheets below have the latest information on food standards. If you need more advice call 01753 475111 (Regulatory Services option).
In the guide
When producers sell directly to the consumer there is a wide range of labelling requirements
This guidance is for England & Wales
This guidance relates to eggs from hens; eggs from other species of birds will have specific requirements.
Eggs sold directly to the consumer from a farm, by door-to-door delivery, or from a market or boot sale do not need to be weight graded or stamped but must be labelled with a best-before date, a statement that eggs should be kept refrigerated after purchase, and in certain circumstances the production site's name and address or individual code. These requirements do not apply to graded or cracked eggs. There are specific provisions for the labelling of free-range eggs and barn eggs.
If you sell your own eggs at a farmers' market or car boot sale and have more than 50 laying hens you must be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) and the eggs must be marked with the method of production, as below, together with your producer identity number and the country of origin.
You will need to register with the APHA egg marketing inspectors (APHA EMI) if any of the following apply:
When you register APHA will issue you with a production site code; this needs to be marked on the eggs you sell.
If you have fewer than 50 hens there is no need to register with APHA EMI unless you sell them to a registered packing centre or send them to one for grading.
If you have 50 or more birds of any species you will also need to be registered with the Great Britain Poultry Register for disease control purposes. The GB Poultry Register can be contacted on 0800 634 1112.
If you are selling eggs for human consumption you will also need to be registered as a food business; please contact your local district council for further information.
A best-before date must be given ('best before' followed by a date) and this must be a maximum of 28 days after the date of lay. When applying the best-before date, consideration should be given to any thin-shelled eggs and the storage of eggs in high ambient temperatures. The best-before date does not have to be stamped on to the egg, but it must be at least supplied with it.
Appropriate storage information (such as 'keep chilled after purchase').
For local public markets or car boot sales, eggs must be individually stamped with a code that states the production site and farming method. A notice must be displayed explaining the meaning of the letters and numbers that form the code stamped on the egg.
The farming method codes are as follows:
A typical egg may be stamped, for example, 3UK12345, which means:
An exemption to the requirement to stamp applies for producers with a flock of fewer than 50 birds, but in these circumstances the producer's name and address must be provided on a notice.
Eggs sold in one of the three ways described above cannot be marked or advertised with a weight grade or class. For more information on this and other labelling requirements, please see 'Retail sale & labelling of eggs'.
The only exception to the above labelling requirements is where the eggs on sale are produced on the premises from which they are being sold. In this case the eggs need not be weight graded or marked with any information; however, a best-before date must be given.
'Best before' & 'sell by' dates
Eggs, whether loose or packed, must be marked with a best-before date. It is best practice to sell eggs within 21 days of laying.
There is no legal requirement to have a sell-by date on eggs but it may help you to ensure eggs are sold within the 21 days. Where no sell-by date is shown, it is best practice to remove eggs from sale seven days before their best-before date.
Method of farming
The method of farming, relating to the stamped code, can be indicated using the wording below, where applicable. These descriptions also apply if you wish to voluntarily describe your eggs when selling from your premises or door-to-door.
If the eggs have not been produced in accordance with the methods set out for free-range eggs or barn eggs, they are automatically classed as eggs from caged hens.
Laying hens may not be kept in cages that only meet the requirements of the 'conventional cage' system. More information about this is available in Defra's document Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens and Pullets.
Eggs described as 'free range' must be produced in poultry establishments in which the hens have:
In addition, there are requirements in relation to the hens' housing and fittings.
Barn eggs must be produced in a poultry establishment where the hens:
If you need further advice about the other descriptions of methods of farming, or the hens' housing requirements, please contact APHA on 03000 200301 in England and 0300 303 8268 in Wales.
In order to keep the eggs you sell in good condition, when storing them they must be kept:
You should also consider:
Disposal of eggs
For information on disposal of eggs not for human consumption, please see sections 9 and 25.2 of the APHA Guidance on Legislation Covering the Marketing of Eggs.
This is carried out by APHA. Further information relating to the above legislation, including advice on registering as a packer, can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Failure to comply with trading standards law can lead to enforcement action and to sanctions, which may include a fine and/or imprisonment. For more information please see 'Trading standards: powers, enforcement & penalties'.
Last reviewed / updated: July 2019
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.