Reading egg labels: a key in making informed choices

Have you ever noticed the alphanumerical code on the egg carton labels or on the eggs themselves while doing your grocery shopping or while preparing your favorite omelette? Have you ever wondered what they mean, what they refer to and how to read them?

Knowing how to read egg labels and in general food labels is key to evaluating the real quality and freshness of what we eat and make more informed choices. And that’s also the case with eggs!
Every code provides key information about the egg. Let’s say it acts like an identity card! It indicates the freshness and quality of the product, as well as other useful information such as the farming method, size and origin.
Reading egg labels: eggs
Cracking the code of egg labels

The first digit of the alphanumeric code indicates the way hens are raised.
‘0’: organic egg farming
‘1’: free-range farming
‘2’: indoor barn farming
‘3’: cage farming
In other words, If you notice a ‘0’, your egg comes from an organic farm. If you notice a ‘1’, it comes from free-range farm. If you notice a ‘2’, it comes from a deep litter poultry farming system while a ‘3’ means that your egg comes from a battery farm.

The first digit, which defines the farming method, is followed by an abbreviation code who shows the country of origin. For example, the letters ‘IT’ mean that your egg is of Italian origin.
Next to the country code, there are three digits that correspond to the municipality of origin and then an abbreviation that corresponds to a specific province.
The last digits of the alphanumeric code are the farm code which is assigned by health authorities to each farm.

Another important piece of information to be taken into consideration is the specific letter found on the egg carton.  This indicates the precise category. For example, ‘A’ means that the eggs are of high quality. ‘B’ means second-rate eggs, while ‘C’ means that the eggs should be used for industrial purposes.
Reading egg labels: hens
Reading egg codes: let’s test your knowledge

Let's take as an example the following code: 0 IT 024 BS 002. Do you know how to decode it?

Taking into account the information we provided above, we know that the ‘0’ and the letters ‘IT’ mean that the egg comes from an Italian organic farm.
The digits ‘024’ followed by the letters ‘BS’ refer to a municipality in Brescia. The number ‘002’ corresponds to a code assigned by the local health authority to that specific farm.

Now you know how to read egg labels and how to recognize freshness, quality, and origin of the products you buy!

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