In the guide

This guidance is for England

Eggs sold directly to the consumer from a farm, door-to-door deliveries, or from a market or boot sale must be labelled with a best-before date, appropriate storage information, 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.

This applies only if the eggs are ungraded (without weight or class descriptions), and you do not knowingly sell a cracked egg. If eggs are sold in any other manner - for example, to other retail premises - you must be registered with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

Labelling requirements

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 stamped code. This notice should explain the meaning of the letters and numbers stamped on the egg. For example, 3UK12345 would relate to the information required as follows: 

  • 3 - the method of farming:
    0 (organic)
    1 (free range)
    2 (barn)
    3 (caged hens)
  • UK - the country of origin
  • 12345 - the production site code, provided to the packer on registration with APHA

An exemption to the requirement to stamp applies for producers with a flock of less 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 that will also apply please see 'Retail sale & labelling of eggs'.

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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.

  • free-range eggs
  • barn eggs
  • eggs from caged birds

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 Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Laying Hens

Free range

Eggs described as 'free range' must be produced in poultry establishments in which the hens have:

  • continuous daytime access to open-air runs
  • access to ground mainly covered with vegetation
  • at least four square metres of ground available per bird

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:

  • are provided with at least 15cm perch space per hen
  • have floor space providing at least 250cm2 of litter space per hen
  • comply with requirements relating to the hens' housing and fittings 

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.

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In order to keep the eggs you sell in good condition, when storing them they must be kept:

  • chilled and protected from changes to, and extremes of, temperature; between 5°C and 17°C is suitable
  • dry, out of direct sunlight and away from other goods that might flavour them, such as onions or washing powder

You should also consider:

  • handling them as little as possible, as small cracks will cause the eggs to deteriorate and lose weight
  • taking care when storing trays on top of each other, as this may cause the eggs to crack
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Disposal of eggs

For information on disposal of eggs not for human consumption, please see sections 9 and 23 of the APHA Guidance on Legislation Covering the Marketing of Eggs.

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Egg inspections

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.

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Failure to comply with these labelling requirements is a criminal offence. The maximum penalty is a fine.

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Key legislation

EU Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 laying down specific hygiene rules for food of animal origin (annex III, section X) 

EU Regulation (EC) No 589/2008 laying down detailed rules for implementing EU Regulation (EC) No 1234/2007 as regards marketing standards for eggs

Eggs and Chicks (England) Regulations 2009

EU Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers


Last reviewed / updated: December 2016

Please note

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.


Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.