How to market and trade eggs, including rules on registration, egg marking and inspections, salmonella and egg quality.
Applies to England and Wales
This guidance is for businesses that produce and pack hen eggs for human consumption.
It also applies to hatching eggs and farmyard poultry chicks from:
- guinea fowl
Registering 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 less than 50 birds you can register voluntarily.
Registering your premises with APHA
If you have to register your premises, you must do so before you start to sell eggs or chicks.
It’s free to register.
Registering 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 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 (producer code) for your registered premises, which is made up of:
- a digit (0, 1 , 2 or 3) 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, for example, you must also register your premises as an egg packing centre. Only packing centres can grade eggs (as Class A) for retail and catering.
Registering as an egg packing centre
To grade and pack eggs on your premises, 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
You might also need to apply to designate your premises as an egg packing centre.
It’s free to apply for designation.
Registering as a hatchery or breeding site
You must register your premises if you intend to run a:
- hatchery and you have capacity for 1000 eggs or more
- breeding site with 100 or more breeding birds
Marking 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 shows consumers the:
- farming method, for example organic, free range, barn or cage
- country of origin
- premises where the eggs were produced
Egg marketing inspectors use the code to 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 the local area
- have less than 50 birds and you sell at a local public market
However, at local public markets you must still display:
- your name
- your address
- the best before date
- advice to keep eggs chilled after purchase
Some markets have their own rule that you must stamp the producer code on hen eggs.
Joining an assurance scheme
You can apply to be part of an assurance scheme.
The British Lion Mark shows that eggs are produced to a code of practice operated by the British Egg Industry Council. Around 90% of UK eggs are stamped with the British Lion Mark.
The Laid in Britain scheme is a consortium of independent egg producers and packers which sell locally and regionally with traceable produce.
Apply to the schemes directly.
APHA egg marketing inspectors (EMIs) inspect registered egg production sites and packing centres. They examine hen eggs, premises and records.
EMIs inspect wherever hen eggs are produced, graded, packed, imported and sold in any way, and at hatcheries.
Find out more about egg marketing inspection.
To find your local EMI contact APHA.
Controlling salmonella 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 poultry for salmonella throughout the year 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 (as there will be 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 your production is for private domestic use
- you have less than 350 hens and you supply directly to the consumer or via local retailers
Disposing of waste or surplus eggs
You must follow rules on disposal of animal-derived waste or surplus eggs.
Waste or surplus eggs are those not sent for processing within the food or non-food industries. Non-food industries include:
- technical products
You must also follow the rules on disposal for eggs used in some processes, like:
- anaerobic digestion
- production of pet food
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 might come within category 2 (high risk). You must follow further rules on how you dispose of category 2 eggs.
Selling eggs internationally
You must follow EU rules when you import or export eggs.
If you export to a non-EU country (third country), you may need to follow rules on quality, marking, labelling or other requirements in the country you export to. Check the requirements with the third country or your importer before you export.
- classify eggs and egg products for import and export with a commodity code
- register as a trader to export agricultural products
- apply for a licence to export/import agricultural products
- apply for an export health certificate
You can only import eggs for human consumption from certain countries set out in Annex I, Part 1 of the legislation. You must not import eggs from countries not on the list.
Telling 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 through APHA.