Legal requirements relating to the sale of eggs

Do egg producers need to be registered before they can sell their eggs?

Egg producers must register with the Egg Marketing Inspectorate, which is part of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), if:

  • they have 350 or more hens; or
  • they have 50 or more hens and they market their eggs at local public markets; or
  • if their eggs are marketed as “Class A” eggs.

Requirements for small egg producers

Poultry keepers who keep fewer than 50 birds are allowed to sell their eggs at their gate or locally door to door or direct to their consumers at a local public market and are not required, or permitted, to mark or grade their eggs. They are, however, required to provide details of their name and address to anyone they sell their eggs to. They are also required to provide their consumers with consumer advice advising them to keep the eggs chilled after purchase along as well as a best before date. The best before date should be no more than 28 days from the date on which the egg was laid.

Poultry keepers who run a bed and breakfast establishment with no more than 3 rooms on the same site where their chickens are kept are allowed to serve their eggs to their guests and do not have to grade or mark their eggs. However, they are required to inform their guests that the eggs come from their own chickens and are not “Class A”. They should also advise their guests that they might like them properly cooked, particularly if their guests are vulnerable, for example elderly, young or pregnant, since they are not graded.

Requirements in relation to the sale of ungraded eggs by registered poultry keepers

Poultry keepers who keep 50 or more birds can sell their ungraded eggs at local public markets. However, their eggs need to be marked with a code identifying the method of production and the establishment (see below for information about such codes). A best before date, which should be no more than 28 days from the date on which the egg was laid, and advice to keep the eggs chilled after purchase must also be displayed on any pack labelling or at the point of sale.

Requirements in relation to Class A eggs

“Class A” eggs are fresh eggs sold in their shells for human consumption. They can be marketed as “extra fresh” if certain criteria are met. There are certain standards which must be met before an egg can be sold as a Class A egg.

Class A eggs must be marked with a code identifying the method of production, the country of origin and the production establishment.

The method of production codes are “0” for organic eggs, “1” for free range eggs, “2” for barn eggs and “3” for eggs from caged hens.

The country of origin code for eggs produced in the UK is “UK”.

The production establishment code is a unique number allocated to each production establishment which is registered with the Egg Marketing Inspectorate.

Best before dates should be stamped on the packaging or labelling. The best before date should not exceed 28 days from the date when the eggs were laid. Best before dates do not, however, have to be stamped on individual eggs.

The codes and best before dates must be legible. Where eggs are individually stamped the ink used must be of food grade.