Buy an egg anywhere in Europe and it will come stamped with a series of numbers and letters, but what do they mean?
by John Pope on December 29, 2015
Pick up any egg laid within the European Union (unless you got it directly from the hen which laid it and not through any formal distribution channel) and you will immediately be able to tell a couple of things about it.
Since 2004 all eggs sold in the EU must be stamped with information showing, as a minimum, the way that the laying hens were kept and the location in which the egg was laid. The producer may choose to add a logo, a national certification, or any other information they fancy, but if nothing else then each egg must have a code like the one shown in the image above, e.g. 1UK12345.
Deciphering the digits
The first character denotes the method of egg production and will be a number from 0 to 3:
- 0 – Organic
- 1 – Free range
- 2 – Barn
- 3 – Cage/battery
The next two letters are a country code, which follows the ISO standard, this is the same code system used all over the place including to determine country on the internet, so you should be used to it.
i.e. .co.fr – French website 1FR45624 – French egg
The last six digits are a unique code number for the farm where the egg was laid. The first two digits signify the region and the remaining four signify the individual farm/barn.
Aside from the required information you can pretty much add anything else you like. In the UK this is most often the British Lion Mark. This certification means that eggs are produced to a code of practice operated by the British Egg Industry Council.
Others within Europe and elsewhere are far more creative, stamping eggs with nutritional information or recipes for omelettes which is all wonderful and fun, but will always be in addition to the mandatory code.