How to market eggs, including rules on registration, egg marking, salmonella control and egg marketing inspections in England and Wales.
Applies to England and Wales
This guidance is for businesses that produce or pack hen eggs for human consumption.
It also applies to hatching eggs and farmyard poultry chicks from:
- guinea fowl
Register your poultry with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)
If you keep 50 or more chickens, ducks or other poultry, of any mix, you must register your poultry with APHA.
You’ll need a county parish holding (CPH) number if you do not already have one.
It’s free to register.
If you have fewer than 50 birds you can register voluntarily.
Register your premises with APHA
You must register your premises with APHA if you are an egg production site, egg packing centre, hatchery or breeding site. You must register before you start to sell eggs or chicks.
It’s free to register.
Register as an egg production site (laying hen establishment)
You must register your premises with APHA if you:
- send any of your eggs for grading at a registered egg packing centre
- have 50 or more hens and you sell ungraded eggs at a local public market
- have 350 or more hens
This includes cage, barn, free range or organic egg-producing hens.
You’ll get a number (a producer code) for your registered premises, which is made up of:
- a digit (0 for organic, 1 for free range, 2 for barn or 3 for cage) to show the farming method
- a code to show the country of origin
- a unique identification number for your premises
To sell eggs to shops, catering outlets or restaurants you must also register your premises as an egg packing centre. Only egg packing centres can grade eggs. The eggs must be graded as Class A for retail and catering.
Register as an egg packing centre
To grade and pack eggs on your premises for sale to retail or catering, you must:
- register your premises with APHA as an egg packing centre
- apply to your local authority environmental health department to be approved as a food business operator
In the event of a bird flu (avian influenza) outbreak, you might also need to apply to designate your egg packing centre.
It’s free to apply for designation.
Register as a hatchery or breeding site
You must register your premises with APHA if you intend to operate a:
- hatchery and you have capacity for 1,000 or more eggs
- breeding site with 100 or more breeding birds
Mark your eggs
You must stamp your eggs with your producer code if you sell:
- eggs graded as Class A
- ungraded eggs at local public markets and you have over 50 hens
The producer code is used to identify and trace eggs .
You do not need to stamp your eggs with a producer code if you:
- sell your eggs directly to consumers - for their own use - from your own farm or door to door in your local area
- have fewer than 50 birds and you sell at a local public market
To sell your eggs at local public markets you must still display:
- your name
- your address
- the best before date (maximum of 28 days from date of lay)
- advice to keep eggs chilled after purchase
Some markets have their own rule that you must stamp the producer code on hen eggs.
Free range status of eggs from areas with housing measures
You may be in a bird flu disease control zone where you must house your birds. Check what zone you’re in and follow the rules for that zone. You can label your eggs as free range for 16 weeks from the date that the birds were housed.
For longer term concerns about loss of free range status contact your APHA Egg Marketing Inspector (EMI).
Join an assurance scheme
You can apply to be part of an assurance scheme .
The British Lion Mark scheme requires egg producers and packing centres to follow a strict code of practice.
The Laid in Britain scheme requires egg producers and packing centres to follow a strict code of practice developed by poultry vets.
Apply to the schemes directly.
APHA egg marketing inspectors (EMIs) inspect registered egg production sites, packing centres, wholesalers and hatcheries. They make sure that the eggs being produced and sold meet the marketing standards.
APHA EMIs inspect all premises in England and Wales where hen eggs are produced, graded, packed, imported and sold in any way.
Find out more about egg marketing inspection.
To find your local EMI, email CSCOneHealthEggMarketing@apha.gov.uk
Salmonella control in flocks of laying chickens
Salmonella infection in eggs can cause serious illness in humans and can be transmitted in or on poultry eggs from both breeding and laying flocks.
You must test your hens for salmonella if you:
- commercially produce chicken eggs intended for human consumption
- have over 350 laying hens
Testing is part of the UK National Control Programme (NCP) for salmonella.
You must not sell eggs for human consumption which have originated from flocks:
- infected with Salmonella Enteritidis or Salmonella Typhimurium (there will be official controls on these flocks)
- of ‘unknown health status’ (not tested according to the NCP) unless those eggs are heat-treated (pasteurised) to eliminate possible salmonella infection
You do not have to comply with NCP testing if either:
- all the eggs you produce are for private domestic use
- you have fewer than 350 hens and you supply directly to the consumer or through local retailers
Dispose of waste or surplus eggs
You must follow rules on disposing animal by-products and surplus or waste eggs.
Every part of an egg that is not for human consumption is at least a category 3 animal by-product (low risk).
Eggs from hens showing signs of transmissible disease are a category 2 animal by-product (high risk). You must follow further rules on how you dispose of category 2 eggs.
Sell eggs internationally
Find out how to:
Tell APHA if your circumstances change
Tell your local EMI if your circumstances change, for example if you:
- stop keeping poultry
- reduce or increase the number of birds you keep
Contact your EMI directly or email CSCOneHealthEggMarketing@apha.gov.uk.