Production, Biosecurity, Registration and Egg Marketing (What you need to
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural
Affairs (DEFRA) have issued a useful guide via the Animal and Plant
Health Agency (APHA) summarising the various aspects of egg marketing
and it's legislation.
You will need to register
with the Egg Marketing Inspector of the Animal and Plant Health Agency
(APHA) if you have 350 or more hens, or 50 or more hens if your eggs
are marketed at local, public markets, or if ANY of your eggs are marketed
through a registered packer. If you sell your eggs to shops,
restaurants or bakeries, they must be graded Class A and so you must also
be approved and authorised as a packing centre. Application form EMR
02B is available from the relevant Administrative Centres (below)
clicking on this link (opens in new
premises are in England, your Administrative Centre is:
premises are in Wales, your Administrative Centre is:
Marketing Business Support, Customer Services Centre, Animal and
Plant Health Agency, County Hall, Spetchley Road, Worcester,
If you have
less than 350 hens and all the eggs produced are sold directly to
individual customers, you will NOT need to register with the Egg
Marketing Inspector (EMI). However, if have 50 or more birds, you
MUST be registered with the Great Britain Poultry Register (for
disease control and monitoring purposes) via the following address.
and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Cardiff Customer Service Centre,
Poultry Data Team, Government Buildings, 66 Ty Glas Road,
Llanishen, Cardiff, Wales, CF14 5ZB
Packing centres have to
be approved separately (as food business operators) by your local
authorities and MUST be authorised by an APHA Egg Marketing Inspector
(EMI) to grade and pack eggs. Applications can be made via the form
EMR02, obtainable from the administrative centre (at the above
address) or by
clicking on this link (opens in new
tab). Once authorised, packing centres may receive ungraded eggs
sourced from producers registered with an APHA EMI. They may also
receive graded Class A eggs which may then be repacked by the packing
centre. The eggs MUST be within 10 days of lay and MUST carry the
producer code (whether done by them or producer). Packing Centres must
also keep detailed records of gradings and all egg transactions from
production through to delivery (invoices, delivery notes or
other forms of documentation) and presented upon request as records.
This enables complete traceability and verification of eggs and
Class A Eggs Class A eggs must have the following quality characteristics:
• Shell and cuticle: normal shape, clean and undamaged
• Air space: height not exceeding 6mm, stationary, however, for
eggs to be marketed as "extra" it may not exceed 4mm
• Yolk: visible on candling as a shadow only, without clearly
discernible outline, slightly mobile upon turning the egg, and
returning to a central position
• White: clear translucent
• Germ: imperceptible development
• Foreign matter: not permissible
• Foreign smell: not permissible.
Class A eggs must be sold according to weight. The weight gradings are
• XL - VERY LARGE eggs weighing 73g or more.
• L - LARGE 63g up to (but not including) 73g.
• M - MEDIUM 53g up to (but not including) 63g.
• S - SMALL below 53g.
The letters or full term may be used separately or individually.
Class A eggs shall not be washed or cleaned, before or after grading
(no exceptions apply in the UK). After grading, Class A eggs must be
labelled with indications of best before dates, a maximum of 28 days after
date of lay. The label should also indicate to the consumer to keep the
eggs chilled after purchase. Class A eggs may also be sold in mixed
weight packs as long as the pack indicates the minimum net weight of the
group and an indication that the eggs are different sizes.
'Extra Fresh' eggs must be graded, marked and packed within 4 days of lay
and the laying date must be shown on the pack. The term 'extra' or 'extra
fresh' may only be shown on packs until the ninth day after lay. This
nine day time limit and the laying date shall be shown clearly on packs.
Labelling must also indicate that the eggs are produced in a specific area
or region and records to this claim must be available.
Until' or 'Sell by' dates are not required on packs of eggs, however,
there is an obligation to ensure eggs are sold to the consumer within 21
days of lay, so retailers may prefer to have such additional stock control
dates on their packs. It is recommended that the suitability of all pack
designs, net weights and indications used are checked with your EMI
(Egg Marketing Inspector)
The chart (below) should hopefully sum up all the salient points.
Producers Registration, Egg Marketing and Egg Stamping Requirements
Antibiotics and Biosecurity
dominate UK poultry production today - antibiotics and biosecurity.
Luckily the former is referred to mostly in terms of meat rather than egg
production, but the guiding principles should still be borne in mind.
Antibiotic use can be
reduced, or even eliminated by the use of the 'Seed, Feed, Weed' method of
raising birds. This aims at producing and maintaining a beneficial gut microflora.
The 'Seed' involves the use
of probiotics, or preferably a competitive exclusion product, from the
first day. The 'Feed' part involves acidification of the water supply with
organic acids and feed enzymes. Finally, the 'Weed' aspect refers to
the inclusion essential oils in the feed.
For this concept to truly
work, use of anticoccidial vaccines are essential (rather than
coccidiostats in the feed). It also relies upon a strengthening of
biosecurity measures on the unit.
One of the first aspects of
this is accurate flock observation, detecting the very early signs
of possible disease, such as changes in feeding and drinking patterns,
activity and behaviour, including vocalisation and litter condition.
The main part of biosecurity is broken down into three components:
isolation, traffic control and sanitation. The last one is essential to
prevent spread on a unit and involves strict personal hygiene and
efficient cleaning and disinfection between flocks.
The stress of stocking density also plays a significant part and may need
to be reduced to allow antibiotic-free production to succeed.
It must be remembered, however, that if unrealistic expectations are
placed on personnel, or a biosecurity plan puts undue logistical obstacles
to normal site running, it will not be long before the programme begins to
All parties on a unit must be included in discussions on the formation of
the biosecurity plan for that farm/smallholding. A pre-planned system must
not be imposed on them. Adequate time must be allowed for each step to be
completed to avoid hurrying and short-cuts being taken.
Frequent reviews are
essential, including all parties to locate problem areas.
Third party service workers
such as electricians, motor mechanics, etc, are often overlooked in
biosecurity plans. Many of them will visit other poultry units.
It may be difficult to
maintain good biosecurity in the midst of a storm, when power is off.
Each member of the team
should be aware how their role impacts on the others and the success of
the total plan.
Record keeping of all aspects is essential and should not be overlooked or
allowed to slacken. This includes, particularly, log books and other
travel documents, of personnel and equipment.
Don't forget that current and efficient pest control must be adhered to
and maintenance of the farm/smallholding area and structures are all part
of an effective biosecurity plan.
An egg scandal has been going
on since June 2017, where Belgian authorities have apparently discovered
contaminated eggs coming from the Netherlands. They said nothing about
it, as it was subject to an investigation. However, reports suggest that
millions of eggs have been recalled from sale in Belgium, Holland and
Germany, and 180 layer farms closed in the Netherlands. It is now thought
that similar contaminated eggs are originating in layer units in Lower
Saxony in Germany. The cause of the contamination is Fipronil, an
insecticide used for the control of fleas and ticks on dogs and cats. It
appears that Fipronil has been added, accidentally, or deliberately,
to a cleaning agent and sanitiser 'Dega 16' which is much-used on Dutch
and other poultry farms. Fiproni is not authorised for use with poultry
and the thrust of the investigation is how the contamination of the Dega
16 occured, and suppliers of the product are being quizzed. Millions of
eggs have been withdrawn, and Aldi in Europe stopped selling ALL eggs as a
precaution. Aldi UK though, state that there is no problem here, as all Aldi
egg supplies in the
UK are British.
Realisation and fear of egg
contamination appearing in the UK has prompted at least one packer to
enquire which mite treatments their producers are using. As well as
enquiring if they are using Dega 16 (a most unlikely event in the UK),
they are questioning if any mite treatments used contain water-based oil
extracts from garlic, pea, oregano, menthol or eucalyptus. Obviously,
there is concern over possible taints being passed to the egg.
There is one excellent anti-mite product available called Red Stop
Solution which has given over a decade of excellent mite control in
France, Ireland and the UK without any suggestions of the slightest
taint. Red Stop Solution contains thyme, tansy and burdock in it's
composition and is widely accepted by birds in their drinking water.
Red Stop Solution is also approved for organic farming (no
insecticides, only natural ingredients). For more information and to
buy Red Stop Solution click on this link
HERE (opens in new tab).
For the full, in-depth APHA/DEFRA guidance notes (16 pages) regarding these issues
including sections for wholesalers, distribution depots, retailers,
caterers, egg processors and egg boiling plants, click this link
(opens in new tab).
S.P.R. Centre. Greenfields
Farm, Fontwell Avenue, Eastergate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20