Commercial Egg Production, Biosecurity, Registration and Egg Marketing
(What you need to know)


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.

Egg Marketing

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) or by clicking on this link (opens in new tab).


If your premises are in England, your Administrative Centre is:

If your premises are in Wales, your Administrative Centre is:


Egg Marketing Business Support,
Customer Services Centre,
Animal and Plant Health Agency,
County Hall,
Spetchley Road,

Telephone: 03000 300 301


Egg Marketing,
Crown Buildings,
LL55 1EP

Telephone: 0300 303 8268


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.

Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA),
Cardiff Customer Service Centre,
Poultry Data Team,
Government Buildings,
66 Ty Glas Road,
CF14 5ZB


Packing Centres


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 their origins.


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 as follows:


•  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' or '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.
  'Display 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) prior to production.

The chart (below) should hopefully sum up all the salient points.

Egg Producers Registration, Egg Marketing and Egg Stamping Requirements


  Antibiotics and Biosecurity

Two keywords 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 be ignored.


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.

  Contaminated Eggs

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 HERE
(opens in new tab).


S.P.R. Centre. Greenfields Farm, Fontwell Avenue, Eastergate, Chichester, West Sussex, PO20 3RU.

Telephone: 01243 542815   Email:

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