Nowadays, most of us buy eggs in the supermarket that comes inside a card box package. This package shows the company name, the best-before date, the egg size category and if it is free-range or not and most of the times with a very nice image of a hen or a farm. But what about the code that is stamped on your egg? Do you know what it means?

Since 1999 that has been some changes in the European legislation to protect and improve the production system of eggs. Thus, since 2014, it is mandatory in the EU that all eggs have stamped on their shell a code that gives you information about the its production.

What does the code mean?

In the European Union, the code gives you information about:

– The method of production, which is divided in 4 levels,

– The country of origin and,

– The Producer ID.

Which are the method production levels and what do they mean?

If your egg code starts with the number “0” than that is good news but if it starts with the number “3”, than you should start to rethink about the eggs you buy.

The method of production tells you the quality of the production in a decreasing order:

0 – Organic Egg

1 – Free-Range egg

2 – Barn

3 – Cage Farming

Thanks to this coding system, there has been an increase in the consumption of free-range eggs.

For more information about these method production systems, see the Regulation (EU) No. 1308/2013 Of The European Parliament And Of The Coucil Of 17th December 2013.

What are the requirements to be in a certain level?

There are strict requirements in the European Union that the producer needs to comply regarding the minimum space for the hens. These areas varies according to the quality production level.  The produce method code also tells you if the hen is created in an outdoor and indoor space and if the food is mainly organic or not:

Caged (3): The cheapest eggs, the less healthy and the cruellest. The available space per hen is very small, being approximately the area of an A4 sheet, with no outdoor space. Their beak is cut off to avoid self-mutilation or to avoid them attacking other hens. This abnormal behaviour is caused by the stress of their life conditions. The indoor light are also manipulated so that the hen produces more eggs than normal.

Barn (2): As on the method 3, no outdoor space is available and the hens have also their beak cut off. The available space per hen is less than the area of an A3 sheet.

Free-Range Egg (1): Eggs from hens that have access to an indoor and an outdoor space being the internal space available per hen the same as on method 2. It is mandatory an outdoor space with 4m2 per hen.

Organic (0):  As on method 1, the hens have an indoor and outdoor space. The available interior space per hen is approximately the same area as an A2 sheet. Their food is grown pasture and organic production.

For more information see the Regulation (EU) No. 1308/2013 Of The European Parliament And Of The Coucil Of 17th December 2013 and Council Directive 1999/74/EC (July 1999).

What is the code for each country?

The code always has 2 letter:

BE= Belgium,

DE= Germany


ES= Spain

FR= France

IT= Italy

PT= Portugal

UK= United Kingdom

For more information about the code for other countries, click here.

Can I check who the producers are?

There is a really interesting website where you can write the code and it will give you all the information.

Check it out here:

I hope this post was useful to you so that you have a better understanding of this numbers that are more than numbers, they tell you a history. Use this information to ensure that you are buying free-range or organic eggs.

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