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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
There are specific requirements for the marking of eggs for retail sales, including descriptions and size
This guidance is for England & Wales
This guidance applies only to hens' eggs being sold to consumers by retail.
All eggs sold by retailers must be stamped with a specific code.
There are labelling requirements for eggs; those sold in boxes require a greater level of detail than those sold loose in trays.
Markings stamped on eggs
All eggs sold at retail level must be stamped with a code stating the farming method, the country of origin (UK), and the individual code for the production site.
The farming method codes are as follows:
A typical egg may be stamped, for example, 3UK12345, which means:
A production site code can be obtained by registering with the Animal and Plant Health Agency egg marketing inspectors (APHA EMI).
Labelling accompanying eggs at retail level
There are some differences between the labelling required for packed and loose eggs sold at retail.
Both packed eggs and loose eggs sold from trays must be accompanied by the following information:
Packed eggs must be labelled with the above and the following:
Eggs can only be packed into boxes by a registered packing centre. Unmarked boxes may be provided for customers' convenience for sales of loose eggs.
Packed eggs of different sizes (not including 'extra' sized eggs) must be labelled with the above and the following:
For all types of packed eggs, the pack may also be labelled with the following information:
'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.
Weight grades of eggs
Only the following weight grades are permitted for eggs; no other terms may be used to describe the weights of eggs on retail sale:
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, then they are automatically classed as eggs from caged hens.
All caged hens must be kept in 'enriched cages' and it is no longer permitted to keep hens in a 'conventional cage' system'. Please refer to the Code of Practice for the Welfare of Laying Hens and Pullets for more information.
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.
Extra / extra fresh
Packs may be labelled as 'extra' or 'extra fresh' until nine days after laying.
This is carried out by APHA. Further information relating to the above legislation, and advice on registering as a packer etc, can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Eggs sold directly to consumers
For the sale of eggs by the producer directly to the consumer - for example, from the farm gate - please see 'Egg producers selling directly to consumers'.
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.