The interpretation of the code marked on european eggs
The egg category is determined by the farming production method indicated by the following figures:
YOU CAN MAKE YOUR CHOICE!
Guidelines on the farming production methods of laying hens are established by the European Union, in this way every country in the European Union can guarantee standardized animal welfare and product traceability so as to ensure food security for all European consumers.
The code stamped on all European eggs is composed by:
- 0, 1, 2, 3: the first character is the number indicating the farming method of the laying hens, next is
- EU (country code) - BG, EL RO: is the acronym of the Country of origin and then,
- 08001 or AG003: this is the producer identification number, which is a unique code for each European establishment/farm as it has to be registered and identified by the National Veterinary Body.
- 20.06.14 Best before date is about product quality, not safety. When the date is passed, it doesn’t mean that the egg will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its specific properties, eggs can be eaten after their “best before” date as long as they are cooked thoroughly until both yolk and white are solid.
Egg farming methods
The farming methods for rearing laying hens are an important part of the egg flavour:
Organic egg production
Organic Eggs are produced under a free range system from hens that are fed a diet that is 95% organically grown.
- Hen house conditions for organic hens are set by the EU Organic Regulation (EC) 889/2008 and stipulate a maximum stocking density of 6 hens /m2.
- In accordance with the EU Regulation on Organic Production, the preventive use of antibiotics and hormones is not permitted.
Free range eggs come from hens housed in sheds that have access to an outdoor range for at least 8 hours during the day. A maximum stocking density of 9 birds per m2 hens in this system have the following advantages:
- Access to an outdoor range and the ability to move around.
- Hens are able to display an extended range of natural behaviours including nesting, foraging for food, perching and dust-bathing, and allow for more social interaction with other birds.
Barn Laid Eggs
Hens in barn systems are free to roam within an outhouse that is designed to keep them clean and healthy. Hens in this system have the following welfare advantages:
- Housing in larger groups allows more social interaction with other birds and protection from the elements and predators.
- Furnishings in the barn allow hens a greater behavioural repertoire including nesting, perching and dust-bathing.
Enriched cage eggs
Across the EU ‘battery’ cages have been replaced by larger, ‘enriched’ colony cages. The new colony cages provide 750cm² per bird along with a nest box for the birds to lay their eggs in, perching space for the birds to sleep on and a scratching area to perform natural behaviours.
- Protection from the elements and predators like snakes and foxes and from hen in-fighting.
- Lower health issues and hen mortalities are consistently the lowest for hens reared in cage systems with reduced need for veterinary medications and interventions.