This is a quick guide to decoding what those numbers on eggs (in Europe) mean, according to the current egg laws in regulation since 2004.
Decoding the Eggs
The First Number on the Eggs
First you have a number which can be 3, 2, 1 or 0. These represent the production method and mean:
3 – Caged: The hens live in a space of 750 cm² in furnished cages. This can be translated into the fact that they live in a space of about an A4 paper and have probably never been outdoors before.
2 – Indoors: The hens live in an indoor space of 1100cm², which is about the size of 2 A4 papers, and it’s floor must have sawdust or something better. These hens have probably never gone outdoors either.
1 – Free range: The hens have a living space indoors of 1100cm², but they are allowed to go outdoors everyday.
0 – Organic: These hens are the luckiest ones. They have an indoor space of 1667cm² and get to go outdoors. They eat food for poultry but also organic food and receive a very restricted amount of antibiotics.
The Country of Origin
After that there are two letters that represent the country of origin of the eggs. In my photographs here, we have ES printed on the eggs which means that these eggs are from Spain.
Then there are a series of numbers that represent which egg production facility they came from.
There can be an optional line with more information, such as the expiry date.
It’s obvious that we want our hens to be happy and healthy, so we should choose the “0 eggs”. Naturally the “0 eggs” are the most expensive too…
In the Papaya Pieces household we have been buying eggs from different production methods to test if the happiness and health of the hens influence the quality of the eggs. We tested it in an observable household way that is, without sending them off to a laboratory for chemical testing.
The results of our findings are that the runners up in terms of quality are the “1 eggs” and the winners are the “0 eggs”. These are the ones with a tougher shell, their yolk is more beautifully yellow coloured, the eggs are more wholesome in texture and flavour. I do think there is a notable difference.
I hope this helps next time you buy eggs. Thank you for reading!