A big part of Easter is going into your local supermarket, and seeing an array of colourful, decorated eggs. While these eggs are fun and look pretty, their labelling requirements are less strict than regular eggs. This can lead to consumers being in the dark about the product they are purchasing.
This is because coloured eggs are subject to different regulations than regular eggs. Unlike normal eggs, coloured eggs are considered processed foods. The regulations processed foods fall under are less strict in terms of labelling.
In the case of processed eggs, the farming method of the animal and its origin do not have to be indicated, unlike regular, uncoloured eggs. Although these factors are not required, many companies who manufacture coloured eggs include this information voluntarily.
What labelling requirements must regular eggs meet?
Regular eggs have a variety of regulations which must be obeyed according to Commission Regulation (EC) No 589/2008. Eggs are classified as either class A or class B based on their overall quality and weight. These eggs are rated by packing centres, which grade and label the eggs. This procedure must take place within 10 days of the eggs being laid.
Class A eggs must meet the following sensory criteria:
- A normal shaped shell that is both clean and undamaged
- An airspace smaller than 6mm inside the egg
- The yolk may not have a clear outline, and must be slightly mobile upon egg rotation
- The egg white is clear and translucent
- The egg may not contain foreign matter or smells
- The egg may not contain unwanted microbes.
Class A eggs are further categorized by weight:
- XL – extra-large: weight: ≥ 73g
- L – large: weight: 63-73g
- M – medium: weight: 53-63g
- S – small: weight: <53g
Class B eggs do not met the quality requirements of class A eggs and may not be sold in retail. They may only be delivered to the food and non-food industry (Annex VII Part VI Regulation 1308/2013).
Articles 9 and 12 of Commission Regulation (EC) 589/2008 also state that packaged egg labels must contain the following information:
- The quality class A or “fresh”
- The method used to house egg laying hens
- The producer code, with an explanation
- The code of the packing centre
- The weight grading (e.g. L, XL)
- The number of eggs packed
- The date of minimum durability
- If applicable, the words “washed eggs”
- The following notes on storage conditions: “keep at refrigerated temperature” and “heat through after expiry date”
- Best before date (BBD), maximum 28 days after laying
Eggs are further separated based on the quality of life of the hens. The label must mention whether the eggs have been laid by “free-range hens”, “barn-hens”, or “caged hens”. In order for an egg to be labelled free-range, the hens must have constant access to open-air runs during the daytime.
If a class A egg is brought to the market up to 9 days after being laid, the words “extra” or “extra fresh” may be used on the labelling to indicate higher quality.
The Tentamus Group performs a variety of tests on eggs including sensory analyses, microbiological tests, chemical and instrumental analyses. We also assist in the labelling process, ensuring all the required elements are listed in the correct place and size. This is done to ensure the consumer receives high quality goods, which are not subject to recalls.
For any questions, contact our expert: