Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Reading Your French Egg

French eggs are stamped with information for the consumer about who the producer is, when the egg was laid and how the hens live.


On the bottom line of the stamped code, the first figure is a number. It tells you if the egg is organic (0), free range (1), barn (2) or battery (3). Organic means that the hens have access to the open air, are fed 'organic' (ie certified pesticide free) feed and are limited to 6 birds per square metre in the sheds. Free range means the hens are allowed outdoors, but their feed is not 'organic' and they are a maximum of 9 birds per square metre in the sheds. Barn eggs come from hens which are not allowed outside, but otherwise the same rules as the free range. Battery hens (80% of the flock in France) live all their lives in cages, with 16 hours a day of artificial light, and packed in at 16 birds per square metre.

The next two characters tell you which country the egg was produced. FR means France. The next three letters are a code for a specific producer, followed by their département number (in this case, 02, which means Aisne).

The line above says 'PR', for date de péremption (expiry date beyond which it must be removed from sale), which is 28 days after laying, and shows day and month. 

Sometimes there is a third line, which shows the date of laying. This is only necessary if the eggs are being sold as extra-frais (extra fresh), which are eggs less than 9 days old.

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Gluten Free Bread: Laurence of Boulangerie Les Pains de Laurence, rue de la croix, Preuilly, is now doing a gluten free (Fr. sans gluten) loaf, with 50% buckwheat (Fr. sarrasin).

9 comments:

  1. I'm impressed that you can read that.

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    1. It took me a few goes to find a egg with a stamp clear enough to bother publishing. Even so, I certainly can't read it without wearing my glasses.

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  2. My eggs are stamped differently. I buy then from the stand of the local poultry seller at my saturday morning market. They have the stamp for France and the producer, then beneath it says "plein air", but there is no date. I wonder why ?

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    1. A producer selling their own product direct to the public can get away with non-standard stamping. I had to buy supermarket eggs to get the 'official' stamp, and even it isn't absolutely standard (officially it should say DCR not PR, but the meaning is the same). I normally buy my eggs from my laitière (local dairy farmer who delivers) or the poultry producer at the market. Their egg stamping is more like yours. Sometimes the non-standard egg stamp is got round by stamping the egg box, but this only works in the supermarket too, since at the market everyone is re-using egg boxes. The stamping variations are an example of that intermediary position in French law known as 'toleré'.

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    2. The laitière just sold me a bottle of milk with the wrong coloured top on it. When I queried it she said 'Oh don't worry, it's what you always have, but I ran out of the right coloured tops. It doesn't matter for you, only in the shops.' So I think that explains the random egg stamping too.

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    3. It's certainly " the french way", isn't it ?

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    4. Personally I think it's very civilised. It implies a high degree of trust between customer and producer. The sticking to the rules only matter when you are selling/buying in the impersonal supermarket or outside of your region. Most people here have no objection to buying non-AOP goats cheese because they know the producer. It's only important if you are buying goats cheese in Paris.

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    5. We buy sausages handmade by a local english farmer, lamb from a french 'friend of a friend' and eggs from our french dogminder. And we exchange excess fruit and vegetables ( and homemade jams ) with friends who are also growing their own. A very friendly and relaxed way of living.

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    6. Yes, I like the way everything is seasonal too.

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