Also called meat spots. Occasionally found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular opinion, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots.

Mass candling methods reveal most eggs with blood spots and those eggs are removed but, even with electronic spotters, it is impossible to catch all of them. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.

Egg shell and yolk color may vary, but color has nothing to do with egg quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristics or shell thickness.

The color comes from pigments in the outer layer of the shell and may range in various breeds from white to deep brown. Virus infections (Newcastle, Infectious Bronchitis) affect shell colour to a lesser degree internal parasites and Colibacillosis may also affect shell colour. Use chlorinated water and avoid puddles on free-range help to reduce Colibacillosis infections and improve shell colour. The breed of hen determines the color of the shell. Breeds with white feathers and ear lobes lay white eggs; breeds with red feathers and ear lobes lay brown eggs.
Egg albumen in raw eggs is opalescent and does not appear white until it is beaten or cooked. A yellow or greenish cast in raw white may indicate the presence of riboflavin. Cloudiness of the raw white is due to the presence of carbon dioxide which has not had time to escape through the shell and thus indicates a very fresh egg.

On very rare occasions, a hard-cooked egg white may darken to a caramel shade due to a high amount of iron in the cooking water or to a carbonylamine-type reaction. Using fresh eggs and cooling them quickly after cooking helps to prevent this darkening.


Yolk color depends on the diet of the hen. If she gets plenty of yellow-orange plant pigments known as xanthophylls, they will be deposited in the yolk. Hens fed mashes containing yellow corn and alfalfa meal lay eggs with medium yellow yolks, while those eating wheat or barley yield lighter-colored yolks. A colorless diet, such as white cornmeal produces almost colorless yolks. Natural yellow-orange substances such as marigold petals may be added to light-colored feeds to enhance yolk color. To obtain high yolk colours (higher than 10 on the Roche scale) add red pigments to feed; Internal parasites will cause lower pigmentation and varying yolk colour. Yolk pigments are relatively stable and are not lost or changed in cooking.

Sometimes there is a greenish ring around hard-cooked egg yolks. It is the result of sulfur and iron compounds in the egg reacting at the surface of the yolk. It may occur when eggs are overcooked or when there is a high amount of iron in the cooking water. Although the colour may be a bit unappealing, the eggs are still wholesome and nutritious and their flavour is unaffected.  Greenish yolks can best be avoided by using the proper cooking time and temperature and by rapidly cooling the cooked eggs.

Occasionally several concentric green rings may be seen in hard-cooked egg yolks. A yolk develops within the hen in rings. Iron in the hen's feed or water as the rings are formed may cause this coloring.

Sometimes a large batch of scrambled eggs may turn green. Although not pretty, the color change is harmless.

It is due to a chemical change brought on by heat and occurs when eggs are cooked at too high a temperature, held for too long or both. Using stainless steel equipment and low cooking temperature, cooking in small batches and serving as soon as possible after cooking will help to prevent this. If it is necessary to hold scrambled eggs for a short time before serving, it helps to avoid direct heat. Place a pan of hot water between the pan of eggs and the heat source.

The empty space between the white and shell at the large end of the egg.

When an egg is first laid, it is warm. As it cools, the contents contract and the inner shell membrane separates from the outer shell membrane to form the air cell.

As the egg ages, moisture and carbon dioxide leave through the pores of the shell, air enters to replace them and the air cell becomes larger.

Although the air cell usually forms in the large end of the egg, it occasionally moves freely toward the uppermost point of the egg as the egg is rotated. It is then called a free or floating air cell. If the main air cell ruptures, resulting in one or more small separate air bubbles floating beneath the main air cell, it is known as a bubbly air cell.

You can see the air cell in the flattened end of a peeled, hard-cooked egg.

Also known as egg white. Albumen accounts for most of an egg's liquid weight, about 67%. It contains more than half the egg's total protein, niacin, riboflavin, chlorine, magnesium, potassium, sodium and sulfur. The albumen consists of 4 alternating layers of thick and thin consistencies. From the yolk outward, they are designated as the inner thick or chalaziferous white, the inner thin white, the outer thick white and the outer thin white. Egg white tends to thin out as an egg ages because its protein changes in character. That's why fresh eggs sit up tall and firm in the pan while older ones tend to spread out.

Albumen is more opalescent than truly white. The cloudy appearance comes from carbon dioxide. As the egg ages, carbon dioxide escapes, so the albumen of older eggs is more transparent than that of fresher eggs.

When egg albumen is beaten vigorously, it foams and increases in volume 6 to 8 times. Egg foams are essential for making souffles, meringues, puffy omelets, and angel food and sponge cakes.

Ropey strands of egg white which anchor the yolk in place in the center of the thick white. They are neither imperfections nor beginning embryos.

The more prominent the chalazae, the fresher the egg. Chalazae do not interfere with the cooking or beating of the white and need not be removed, although some cooks like to strain them from stirred custard.

The entrance of the latebra, the channel leading to the center of the yolk. The germinal disc is barely noticeable as a slight depression on the surface of the yolk. When the egg is fertilized, sperm enter by way of the germinal disc, travel to the center and a chick embryo starts to form.

Shell Membranes
Just inside the shell are two shell membranes, inner and outer. After the egg is laid and it begins to cool, an air cell forms between these two layers at the large end of the egg.
Vitelline Membrane:
This is the covering of the yolk. Its strength protects the yolk from breaking. The vitelline membrane is weakest at the germinal disc and tends to become more fragile as the egg ages.

SHELL The egg's outer covering, accounting for about 9 to l2% of its total weight depending on egg size. The shell is the egg's first line of defense against bacterial contamination.

The shell is largely composed of calcium carbonate (about 94%) with small amounts of magnesium carbonate, calcium phosphate and other organic matter including protein.

Shell strength is greatly influenced by the minerals and vitamins in the hen's diet, particularly calcium, phosphorus, manganese and Vitamin D. If the diet is deficient in calcium, for instance, the hen will produce a thin or soft-shelled egg or possibly an egg with no shell at all. Occasionally an egg may be prematurely expelled from the uterus due to injury or excitement. In this case, the shell has not had time to be completely formed. Shell thickness is also related to egg size which, in turn, is related to the hen's age. As the hen ages, egg size increases. The same amount of shell material which covers a smaller egg must be "stretched" to cover a larger one, hence the shell is thinner.

In order to satisfy the requirement for calcium, which the bird has at the beginning of shell-formation (late afternoon), 50 % of the feed should be distributed in the afternoon. Lights off timer needs to be programmed to allow sufficient intake of this late afternoon feed.

Seven to 17 thousand tiny pores are distributed over the shell surface, a greater number at the large end. As the egg ages, these tiny holes permit moisture and carbon dioxide to move out and air to move in to form the air cell. The shell is covered with a protective coating called the cuticle or bloom. By blocking the pores, the cuticle helps to preserve freshness and prevent microbial contamination of the contents.

Uses for eggshells vary from the thrifty (compost) to the creative (decorating).

The yolk or yellow portion makes up about 33% of the liquid weight of the egg. It contains all of the fat in the egg and a little less than half of the protein.

With the exception of riboflavin and niacin, the yolk contains a higher proportion of the egg's vitamins than the white. All of the egg's vitamins A, D and E are in the yolk. Egg yolks are one of the few foods naturally containing vitamin D.

The yolk also contains more phosphorus, manganese, iron, iodine, copper, and calcium than the white, and it contains all of the zinc. The yolk of a Large egg contains about 59 calories.

Double-yolked eggs are often produced by young hens whose egg production cycles are not yet completely synchronized. They're often produced, too, by hens who are old enough to produce Extra Large eggs. Genetics is a factor, also. Occasionally a hen will produce double-yolked eggs throughout her egg-laying career. It is rare, but not unusual, for a young hen to produce an egg with no yolk at all.

In fertilized eggs, the yolk is the site of embryo formation.

Development of egg to chick (not for squeamish)

It is the yolk which is responsible for the egg's emulsifying properties.

Eggs which can be incubated and developed into chicks. Fertile eggs are not more nutritious than non-fertile eggs, do not keep as well as non-fertile eggs and are more expensive to produce. Fertile eggs may contain a small amount of male hormone, but there are no known advantages.

True free-range eggs are those produced by hens raised outdoors or that have daily access to the outdoors. Due to seasonal conditions, however, few hens are actually raised outdoors. Some egg farms are indoor floor operations and these are sometimes erroneously referred to as free-range operations. Due to higher production costs and lower volume per farm, free-range eggs are more expensive. The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether hens are raised free-range or in floor or cage operations.

How recently an egg was laid has a bearing on its freshness but is only one of many factors. The temperature at which it is held, the humidity and the handling all play their part. These variables are so important that an egg one week old, held under ideal conditions, can be fresher than an egg left at room temperature for one day. The ideal conditions are temperatures that don't go above 40F. (4C.) and a relative humidity of 70 to 80%.

Most commercially produced eggs reach the supermarkets within a few days of leaving the laying house. If the market and the buyer handle them properly, they will still be fresh when they reach the table.

It is not true that freshness can be judged by placing an egg in salt water. A carefully controlled brine test is sometimes used to judge shell thickness of eggs for hatching purposes but has no application to freshness of table eggs.

How important is "freshness"? As an egg ages, the white becomes thinner and the yolk becomes flatter. These changes do not have any great effect on the nutritional quality of the egg or its functional cooking properties in recipes. Appearance may be affected, though. When poached or fried, the fresher the egg, the more it will hold its shape rather than spread out in the pan. On the other hand, if you hard cook eggs that are at least a week old, you'll find them easier to peel after cooking and cooling than fresher eggs..

Eggs from hens fed rations having ingredients that were grown without pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or commercial fertilizers. No commercial laying hen rations ever contain hormones. Due to higher production costs and lower volume per farm, organic eggs are more expensive than eggs from hens fed conventional feed. The nutrient content of eggs is not affected by whether or not the ration is organic.

Several factors influence the size of an egg. The major factor is the age of the hen. As the hen ages, her eggs increase in size.

The breed of hen from which the egg comes is a second factor. Weight of the bird is another.

Body weight at  maturity. The larger the body weight at first egg, the larger that hen's eggs will be for her entire life. For maximum egg size, do not stimulate maturity with lights until a body weight of 1550-1600 grams (3.4-3.5 Lbs.) is attained.

Rate of maturity. This also relates to body size, but in general the earlier the age a flock begins production, the smaller the egg size will be, and likewise, the later the maturity, the larger the egg size. Lighting programmes can be manipulated to influence rate of maturity. A decreasing light pattern during growing will delay maturity and increase average egg size.

Nutrition. Egg size is greatly affected by the intake of crude protein, specific amino acids such as methionine and cystine, energy, total fat, and the essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid. Levels of these nutrients can be increased to improve early egg size and gradually reduced to control late egg size. (See layer feeding programme.)  

Environmental factors that lower egg weights are heat, stress, overcrowding and poor nutrition.

All of these variables are of great importance to the egg producer. Even a slight shift in egg weight influences size classification and size is one of the factors considered when eggs are priced. Careful flock management benefits both the hens and the producer.

Egg sizes are Extra Large, Large, Medium, Small


Locating the spots where floor eggs are laid will help identify the cause and provide the remedy.

Noting the behaviour of the birds is important. Isolated shady spots encourage floor eggs and should be eliminated. The reduction of floor eggs is related to the quality of management skill at beginning of lay.


At the moment of lay birds will look for a quiet spot where they can lay without risk of aggression. If the nests are not comfortable, not accessible or insufficient in number, birds will lay in shady corners or under feeders or drinkers. In houses with slats the feeder chain must be placed directly on the slats.

A comfortable nest is one that allows the bird to avoid aggression; the head of the bird should be facing out of the nest. The percentage of birds facing out of the nest is a good indication of comfort.


The norm generally held is one nest for 4 to 6 hens, providing nests are comfortable and easily entered. Hens prefer a relatively deep nest with no air currents, a wide perch, with 2 for the lower nests and one for the upper, both perches set lower than the lip of the nest. The perches must be stepped back from the vertical to allow birds to pass easily up and down. The depth of the nest is important to the birds. Reduce opening size to 18 cm if needed to provide a lip or sill of 8 cm deep.


From the very first eggs straw the nests to make them attractive.

However avoid over strawing at this time.

Use barley straw, wood shavings or rice hull.

Do not refill all nests at the same time.

At beginning of lay do not hesitate to leave eggs in the nest.

Small eggs can be hard boiled, coloured with onion and left in the nest. This replaces plaster eggs.

Removing straw must be done slowly leaving an increasing number of unstrawed nests.

Avoid air movement in nest.


At the beginning of lay it is important to collect frequently any eggs laid on the floor (each hour during the hours of lay) and to record them. It is also well worth picking up birds laying on the floor and putting them into nests.

During the production period, to obtain a record of the percentage of floor eggs, we recommend that twice a month floor eggs should be collected every hour throughout the lit period.


Badly chosen feed times can cause floor eggs since the birds may wait at the feeders when they should be in the nests. They will then lay under the feeders.

Floor eggs should be checked for as soon as lights come on. If there are floor eggs at this time increase light duration.

Neon lights are not recommended since the light spread is not even throughout the house. It is better to have many incandescent bulbs of low power that can be dimmed.

In half litter/half slat houses, the floor area should be well lit to avoid shady areas.

Locating spots where floor eggs are laid will show the cause and the remedy.

Noting the behaviour of the birds is important. Isolated shady spots e.g. corners, encourage floor eggs and should be eliminated. The reduction of floor eggs is related to the quality of management skill at beginning of lay.



This Code complements the Code of Practice for the Prevention and Control of Salmonella in Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries (PB2205), and the Code of Practice for the Control of Salmonella in Commercial Laying Flocks in providing practical, comprehensive guidance to all those involved in the production, supply and distribution of shell eggs for human consumption.

It is specifically designed to assist those involved in handling eggs at any stage from the farm to retail sale. Its objective is to ensure that only good quality, hygienically produced eggs reach the consumer. The established standards required to maintain optimum physical quality closely match those for good hygiene practice. Consequently, the Code serves those who wish to ensure eggs consistently achieve high standards.

This Code refers briefly to legislation where appropriate, but it should not be taken as a definitive interpretation of the law. Businesses should approach their local enforcement officer for further guidance on legal requirements and how to comply with them.

The egg is the key to successful reproduction in birds. It has a unique nutrient balance and a complex array of defences which, under natural conditions, protects the egg contents and developing chick against microbiological invasion.

Eggs are also food. They are eaten worldwide and over 27 million are eaten each day in the UK alone. Eggs are a natural product and when utilised as food it is important to respect their limitations. To subject the egg to inappropriate conditions could reduce both its quality and its natural defences, and ultimately put human health at risk.


  1. Most commercial laying flocks are on multi-age sites with continuous production. The layout of the site, the buildings and their surrounds should allow the maintenance of good hygiene standards and the movement of eggs away from the flock to a clean, secure holding room.

  2. All staff involved in handling eggs at any stage in the production and distribution chain should be instructed and/or trained in food hygiene matters commensurate with their work activities.

  3. The house, feed store and other ancillary structures should be kept in good condition to enable them to be effectively cleaned, to prevent access by wild animals and infestation by rodents and insects. Free range structures should be constructed to minimise entrance by wildlife.

  4. Domestic animals should not be allowed to enter buildings associated with egg production or those containing eggs.

  5. All vehicles and equipment should be properly maintained and kept clean.

  6. Manure, dead birds and waste material should be taken from the site and disposed of in order to remove the risk of contamination.

  7. Poultry staff should wear clean protective clothing and footwear. Staff dealing with stock should change clothing if it becomes soiled.

  8. Poultry staff who look after livestock or poultry on other sites should take precautions against cross-contamination, including changing protective clothing and footwear and washing hands.

  9. Visitors to the site should be kept to a minimum. Those wishing to enter poultry houses or buildings containing eggs should wear protective clothing, including footwear, preferably provided on site.

  10. Sufficient foot baths and hand washing facilities should be provided and used by both poultry staff and visitors.



  1. The house should be constructed, maintained and managed so that the birds have an adequate environment suitable for their needs and that of good stock management.

  2. Interior surfaces should be easy to clean.

  3. All equipment, including feed hoppers, drinkers, and ventilating, heating and lighting units, should be regularly inspected and maintained in good working order and a clean state.

  4. A programme for cleaning and pest control should be developed and implemented.

  5. All chemicals, disinfectants and detergents should be suitable for the purpose and safely stored.

  6. Adequate stock management records should be kept and monitored and should include cleaning and pest control.



3.1 Egg Collection Facilities

  1. The cage or nest box and surrounding area should be kept clean.

  2. Cage floors and collection areas should be kept clear of dust, faeces and spilt feed.

  3. The system of manure removal should prevent faecal contamination of the egg, feed trough and collection surfaces.

  4. Nesting material should be kept clean or regularly changed.

  5. Spillage from drinkers should be avoided.

  6. Dead, sick or broody birds should be removed promptly.

  7. Egg belts, and other conveyors should be regularly serviced, maintained and cleaned

  8. There should be no risk of taint or contamination to the eggs from disinfectants or other materials. Disinfectants should be held in separate storage facilities.

  3.2 Egg Collection Procedures

  1. Hands should be washed before and after collecting eggs.

  2. Ideally, egg collection should take place at least twice daily.

  3. Prior to collection or at the earliest opportunity, all dirty, visibly cracked, broken and abnormal eggs should be removed from the collection system and handled separately, avoiding contamination of clean, intact eggs.

  4. Eggs intended for Class A must not be washed or cleaned in any way.

  5. Broken eggs and associated liquid are deemed unfit for human consumption and should be appropriately disposed of or forwarded for a non-food industrial use. Cracked eggs may only be used for human consumption in egg products provided the specific provisions of the Egg Products Regulations  are followed.

  6. Eggs should be packed narrow end down, on collection trays.

  7. As soon as possible after collection eggs should be carefully transferred and stored in a completely separate room from poultry.



  1. Prior to distribution or grading, eggs should be stored in a special room of adequate size and construction, clean and free from pests.

  2. No other materials, in particular feedstuffs and chemicals, should be stored in the room.

  3. The room should be suitably insulated or cooled.

  4. Every effort should be made to keep eggs at a constant temperature not exceeding 20C, except in the case where the eggs are to be marketed as "EXTRA" or "EXTRA FRESH" and collection from the farm is to take place every second working day. In these cases the temperature at which the eggs are kept, on the farm, may not exceed 18C.

  5. Reduce the risk of condensation on eggs arising from extreme fluctuations in temperature by avoiding the movement of cool eggs into warm, humid conditions and do not allow warm air into the storage area. Condensation on shell eggs increases the likelihood of bacteria from the shell moving into the egg contents.

  6. To reduce the risk of contamination, eggs should be stored off the ground on clean trays and well away from walls and ceilings.

  7. The eggs should be stacked in a manner which allows good air circulation and easy handling.

  8. All batches of eggs should be clearly labelled and collected within the regulated periods, applicable to the descriptions under which they will be marketed.

  9. Eggs should be stored out of direct sunlight.


  1. At all stages of distribution eggs should be transported as soon and as quickly as possible and maintained at a constant temperature not exceeding 20C.

  2. Eggs should always be transported carefully to avoid breakages and contamination. When eggs are transported with other goods, care must be taken to ensure cross-contamination cannot occur.

  3. Vehicles should be soundly constructed, well maintained and kept clean. They should be designed in such a way so as to ensure that the temperature remains constant and does not exceed 20C.

  4. All batches of eggs should be clearly labeled in accordance with the requirements of The Eggs (Marketing Standards) Regulations.



6.1Facilities and Equipment

  1. The layout of the building should permit clean operations to be carried out separately from those activities liable to give rise to contamination, and produce a flow of eggs from dirty to clean areas, avoiding cross-contamination.

  2. Each room should be of adequate size to allow easy movement and adequate storage.

  3. The construction of the rooms should enable them to be effectively ventilated, cleaned, drained, lit other than by direct sunlight and protected from pests.

  4. Where possible separate rooms should be available for:


Pre and post grading, storage which are adequately constructed to maintain eggs at a constant temperature not exceeding 20C.

Eggs grading, packing and labelling. Clear working paths should be established from ungraded to graded packed eggs. All equipment should be effectively maintained. Contact surfaces of all working equipment should be kept clean and be so constructed, be of such materials, and be kept in such good order, repair and condition, as to minimise any risk of contamination of the food. Suitable equipment and materials for cleaning should be available.


Packaging and the packaging stores should be dry, tidy and clean. Packaging should be stacked in an orderly manner off the floor and away from walls and ceilings.

Staff facilities should include hand wash basins and adequate toilet facilities.

  e. The Egg Products Regulations 1993 contain special conditions which will apply to packing stations breaking out shell eggs.

6.2 Hygiene

  1. Waste materials should not be allowed to accumulate

  2. A routine programme for cleaning room surfaces and equipment should be implemented

  3. Detergents, disinfectants and sanitizers must be suitable for use in food production and used in accordance with any instructions issued by the manufacturer.

  4. All chemicals should be clearly labelled and safely stored in accordance with the requirements of current Health and Safety legislation and away from food storage and processing areas.

  5. Staff should maintain a high standard of cleanliness and take all necessary precautions to prevent contaminating eggs and packaging, which include:


Clean protective clothing.

Regular washing of hands.

Cuts and abrasions suitably protected with a blue waterproof dressing.

No smoking, drinking or eating in operational areas.

Reporting any illness and in particular symptoms which may be associated with food poisoning to the manager or supervisor.

f. No person suffering from, or a carrier of, a disease which could be transmitted through food may work in a food handling area. Staff are required to notify their manager or supervisor of the following:


any infected wounds, skin infection, sores, diarrhoea or analogous medical condition (such as a stomach upset or vomiting), and

any other illness likely to be transmitted through food.

  6.3 Egg Handling

  1. Clearly labelled batches of eggs arriving from the production site should be held in the pre-grading room. They should be stored away from direct sunlight and at constant temperature not exceeding 20C. Temperature fluctuations should be avoided to reduce the risk of condensation which increases the likelihood of bacteria from the shell moving into the egg contents.

  2. Eggs should be inspected for quality defects. Visibly cracked or broken eggs should be removed in such a way as to avoid contamination of clean, intact eggs.

  3. Eggs arriving on conveyors "in-line" from an adjacent production site should receive a further inspection before candling.

  4. Any eggs removed during the pre-grading sorting, grading and packing process should be channelled down separate lines.

  5. Grading and packing operations should be completed with sufficient speed to prevent any significant increase in the temperature of the eggs.

  6. Eggs should not be allowed to stand in operational areas other than for the short period of time necessary for pre and post grading and packing.

6.4 Packing and Labelling

  1. Small packs must be new, clean and strong enough to protect the eggs during handling, transit and display from damage, extraneous odour and the risk of quality deterioration. Small packs must not be re-used. Outer boxes may be re-used, only if they are as new, i.e. clean, dry and in good repair. Such re-used large packs must not bear any previous marking likely to lead to confusion.

  2. All labelling and printing should be clear and correct in accordance with relevant legislation.

  3. All packs and outer cases must be clearly labelled with a best-before date which at most is 28 days from date of lay. If sell-by dates are also provided these must be set at 7 days prior to the best-before date.

  4. Both large and small packs must be marked on the outer surface with an indication to advise consumers to keep eggs refrigerated after purchase.

  5. Packed eggs should be quickly transferred to the egg storage and distribution rooms.

  6. Staff should receive food hygiene training which includes particular attention to the correct handling and storage of eggs and the avoidance of cross-contamination.

6.5 Egg Storage

See Section 4.


6.6 Egg Distribution

See Section 5.




  1. Eggs should be transported with care. In store careless bulk handling of eggs can result in severe damage.

  2. Signs of damage should be investigated and broken eggs and soiled packaging properly disposed of, or returned. This should be done in such a way as to avoid contamination of clean, intact eggs.

  3. Eggs should be kept at a constant temperature not exceeding 20C.

  4. Eggs should be stacked in a manner which allows adequate air circulation around the egg packs.

  5. To reduce the risk of contamination caused by temperature fluctuations avoid repeatedly moving the same eggs to and from cool conditions. Condensation on shell eggs increases the likelihood of bacteria from the shell moving into the egg contents.

  6. Eggs are vulnerable to taint and should not be stacked close to pungent foods and materials.

  7. A planned system of egg handling should ensure proper stock rotation.

  8. Food hygiene training for staff should include attention to the correct handling of eggs and the avoidance of cross-contamination.




  1. In respect of shell eggs, legislation allows caterers to use only Grade A shell eggs packed in accordance with egg marketing legislation or egg products produced in accordance with the Egg Products Regulations. Caterers should also have regard to the "Eggs in Transit" guidance in Section 5 of this Code.

  2. Eggs are fragile and should be carefully handled.

  3. Signs of damage should be investigated and broken eggs and soiled packaging properly disposed of, or returned. Care should be taken to avoid contamination of clean, intact eggs.

  4. Eggs should not be washed or wiped as this makes them more susceptible to contamination.

  5. Eggs should be stored in a refrigerator in their date-labelled packs if not date marked on the shell.

  6. Eggs should be used within half an hour after removal from the refrigerator.

  7. Avoid repeatedly moving the same eggs to and from the refrigerator by only removing eggs sufficient for immediate use.

  8. Hands should be washed before and after handling loose shell eggs.

  9. Eggs are vulnerable to taint and should not be placed close to pungent foods and materials.

  10. A planned system of egg handling should ensure proper stock rotation.

  11. Broken out shell eggs, pasteurised or heat treated liquid egg, once opened, and reconstituted egg mixes are highly vulnerable to contamination and should be handled with care. Unused liquid eggs or raw egg mixes should be destroyed and not stored.

  12. Food hygiene training for staff should include attention to the correct handling of eggs and foods containing eggs and the avoidance of cross-contamination.




  1. Retailers should have regard to the "Eggs in Transit" guidance in Section 5 of this Code.

  2. Eggs are fragile and should be carefully handled at all stages, from receipt of delivery, in stockroom management and shelving up for retail display and sale. Although consumer handling can damage eggs, a quality product should be presented in the first place.

  3. Signs of damage should be investigated and if broken eggs and soiled packaging are not returned, they should be destroyed. Any such eggs should be removed in such a way as to avoid contamination of clean, intact eggs.

  4. Eggs should not be washed or wiped as this makes them more susceptible to contamination.

  5. Allow good air circulation around the egg packs.
    Eggs should be kept at a constant temperature and preferably not exceeding 20C.
    Eggs should not be placed in the window in direct sunlight, or close to motors (e.g. refrigerator motors) or heaters because this will lead to an increase in the temperature of the egg and reduce quality.

  6. All outer and small packs will be clearly date labelled to form the basis of an established plan of stock rotation.

  7. Eggs must be sold to the consumer:


within a maximum time limit of 21 days from the date of lay in order for the consumer to have sufficient domestic use of the product before the "best-before" date expires.

The maximum "best-before" date is 28 days from date of lay.

Any eggs remaining on shelves for retail sale after 21 days from date of lay should be removed.

In some cases the "sell-by" date shown on some packs will assist in this but this is an optional date mark whereas "best-before" is compulsory. Where only the "best-before" date is shown, 7 days should be subtracted to obtain the "sell-by" deadline.

j. Time restrictions for eggs on retail display also exist where the words "extra fresh until" are shown on egg packs. "Extra" egg packs not sold:


within 7 days from the date of packing where a packing date is shown; or

within 9 days from date of lay where the laying date is marked;

    must be removed from the shelves or the "Extra" information label must be removed and destroyed.


 k. Regularly empty and clean the egg display area.

 l. Shell eggs should be stored away from uncovered foods to avoid taint or cross-contamination.

m. To avoid taint, eggs should not be stacked near pungent foods and materials.

n. Staff should wash their hands before and after handling loose eggs.

o. Food safety training for staff should include attention to the correct handling of eggs.




For an update of legislation in force contact M.A.F.F


Take a look at UK Egg Marketing Inspectorate information.