The advice sheets below have the latest information on food standards. If you need more advice call 01753 475111 (Enforcement & Regulatory option).
In the guide
This guidance is for England
All eggs sold by retailers must be stamped with a specific code.
Loose eggs must be accompanied with details of the packing station number, quality grade, weight grade, type of farming method, best-before date, storage conditions, and explanation of the code stamped on the egg.
Packed eggs in small boxes should show the same information as well as the name and address of the packer and the number of eggs in the pack.
There are specific requirements for the labelling of free-range eggs and barn eggs, storage conditions, and weight grades of eggs.
All eggs sold at retail level must be stamped with a code describing the type of farming method used, the country of origin, and the production site's individual code.
For example, 3UK12345 would relate to the information required as follows:
There are some differences between the labelling required for packed and loose eggs sold at retail.
Graded packed AND loose eggs sold from trays must be accompanied by the following information:
Packed eggs sold at retail must additionally show:
Eggs can only be packed into boxes by a registered packing station. Unmarked boxes may be provided for customers' convenience for sales of loose eggs.
Mixed prepacked eggs (not including 'extra' sized eggs), where packs contain eggs of different sizes, should additionally show:
For all types of packed eggs, the pack may also be labelled with the following information:
Eggs, whether loose or packed, must be marked with a best-before date. They must also be sold 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, you should remove eggs from sale seven days before their best-before date.
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.
Laying hens may not be kept in cages that only meet the requirements of the 'conventional cage' system. More information about this is contained within the Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Laying Hens (opens in a new window), which is available on the GOV.UK website.
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 200 301.
Only the following weight grades are permitted for eggs; no other terms may be used to describe the weights of eggs on retail sale:
This is carried out by APHA. Further information (opens in a new window) relating to the above legislation, and advice on registering as a packer etc, can be found on the GOV.UK website.
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 these labelling requirements is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is a fine.
Last reviewed / updated: December 2016
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 UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.