Egg marking

egg marking on free-range eggs in the United Kingdom (code 1UK)
Not to be confused with the color patterns on many bird eggs.

Egg marking is a form of egg labeling that includes an egg code stamped on the egg itself. In the EU there is a producer code regulated by law since 2004. It allows consumers to distinguish free range eggs and organic farming eggs from the industrial caged hen production.

Egg mark contents

An egg mark may contain a number of information parts - in the EU only the producer code is required. Additional information may be printed along with the date of production being the most common to find. Other information may contain the method of production especially in the non-EU world where the numbered levels do not apply.

Note that egg labeling is used worldwide but mostly in the form of egg carton labels.[1] In most countries there are legal definitions on the designation of the egg size, production method, packager identification and best-before dates. As there is more space on the carton there has been no tendency to create an egg code that is seen on the stamps used for egg marking.

Producer code

German organic eggs with only the EU egg code

The European Union has defined an egg code that consists of[2]

The egg stamp is required in the EU on all class A eggs unless these are sold directly on the farm.

Method of production

The first number of the egg code defines four levels of production quality in decreasing order - the requirements on organic farming eggs extend on the requirements of free range eggs.

0 = organic egg production
1 = free-range eggs
2 = deep litter indoor housing
3 = cage farming

In the European Union these levels have strict minimum requirements:[3]

Country code

The country code follows the ISO two-letter country codes as known from country code top-level domains. This includes

  • AT = Austria
  • BE = Belgium
  • BG = Bulgaria
  • CY = Cyprus
  • CZ = Czech Republic
  • DE = Germany
  • DK = Denmark
  • EE = Estonia
  • ES = Spain
  • FI = Finland
  • FR = France
  • EL = Greece
  • HR = Croatia
  • HU = Hungary
  • IE = Ireland
  • IT = Italy
  • LT = Lithuania
  • LU = Luxemburg
  • LV = Latvia
  • MT = Malta
  • NL = Netherlands
  • PL = Poland
  • PT = Portugal
  • RO = Romania
  • SE = Sweden
  • SI = Slovenia
  • SK = Slovakia
  • UK = United Kingdom

Registration number

In most countries the registration number starts with a region code where the egg production facilities are situated:

Note that a producer with multiple barns will have to register each barn separately.


A diagram showing amount of m² per 13 hens for different levels: from 3 (left) to 0 (right).
Amount of m² per 13 hens

There have been multiple occurrences of the producer code being forged - a common concept is to have multiple barns on the same farm with some having efficient caged hen production and one with an organic egg production code. Eggs are then silently moved to the other barn giving an egg code as if they were from organic production allowing for a higher price on the market.[4] In Lower Saxony (Germany) the state attorney has accused 150 farmers in a year.

The mark on organic egg production as level 0 might indicate that there is nothing better than that. However it does not indicate sustainable agriculture where hens are fed from the organic farm alone. Also species-appropriate husbandry would require more space per hen or a lower number of hens per barn (or even have a cock around to calm down quarrels). Instead there are higher organic farming standards (e.g. Demeter or Bioland) that can not be expressed in the established egg code system. The difference in space per animal is limited between levels 1 and 0:

See also


  2. "Eggs: trade regulations". Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (United Kingdom). 2012-10-08. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  3. "REGULATION (EC) No 589/2008 laying down detailed rules for implementing Council Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards marketing standards for eggs". 2008-06-23.
  4. Die Beichte des Bauern

External links

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 9/10/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.