Not just for Easter – All about egg packaging

Easter time is egg time. But not all eggs are the same. The packaging reveals the differences. A little egg knowledge.

There are binding regulations throughout the EU on how eggs have to be marked. A stamp code on the eggs is mandatory. And the packaging must contain information on the number of eggs, the quality grade, weight grade, best-before date, the packing centre number and the consumer advice “Store at refrigerator temperature” or “Cool at 5 to 8 degrees Centigrade”.

Only grade A eggs are available on the market. This stands for “fresh”. In terms of weight grades, retailers follow the example of the textile industry. The grades start with S (an egg weighing less than 53 grams) and end with XL (more than 73 grams).

The packing centre number does not reveal where the eggs come from, but only where they were packed, emphasises the Federal Consumer Centre. The packing centre number serves the control authorities for the traceability of the eggs. Whoever wants to know in which country the eggs were produced, must look at the stamp code on the egg. The stamp code on the eggshell indicates the origin of the eggs and the type of farming. The code provides information on the type of farming, the country of origin and the farm producing the eggs.

Type of farming

  • 0 = Organic production
  • 1 = free-range husbandry
  • 2 = Barn keeping
  • 3 = Cage rearing = enriched cage (conventional cage keeping in “laying batteries” is prohibited in the EU). At present, the type of rearing 3 is still referred to as “cage rearing” in the corresponding EU regulation).

Origin

Two letters for the EU Member State where the egg was produced, for example: DE for Germany. From the point of view of the Consumer Advice Centre Germany, the country of origin should not only be written on the egg, but also on the packaging. “The marketing standards for eggs should be modified accordingly in order to rule out consumer deception,” explains the Consumer Advice Centre. According to the Consumer Advice Centre, the packing centre number on the egg packaging can easily be confused with an indication of origin. This has been shown, for instance, by consumer enquiries seeking clarity about food.

Producer

Each EU Member State has set up a system to assign an individual number to producers. Further digits can be added to identify individual housing units.

Example of a German producer code: 1-DE-0212341

  • 1 = type of husbandry: free-range husbandry
  • DE = Origin: Germany
  • 0212341 = Farm number, where the first two digits identify the federal state, the third to sixth digits the farm and the seventh digit the respective housing unit.

The federal states have the following identifiers:

  • 01 = Schleswig-Holstein
  • 02 = Hamburg
  • 03 = Lower Saxony
  • 04 = Bremen
  • 05 = North-Rhine/Westphalia
  • 06 = Hesse
  • 07 = Rhineland-Palatinate
  • 08 = Baden-Wuerttemberg
  • 09 = Bavaria
  • 10 = Saarland
  • 11 = Berlin
  • 12 = Brandenburg
  • 13 = Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania
  • 14 = Saxony
  • 15 = Saxony-Anhalt
  • 16 = Thuringia
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