Making Sense of the Supermarket, Part III: Eggs

If you’ve found the eggs in the supermarket, congratulations! The next step is figuring out the difference in all the varieties.    The packaging always shows a consumption date of 28 days after the eggs were laid; they cannot be sold after 21 days have elapsed.  Only eggs less than 9 days from being laid may be labeled as oeufs frais (fresh eggs).

Every egg sold in France is marked with a code, for example: 0 FR ABT01.  The first digit (between 0 and 3) indicates how the chicken who laid the egg was raised. The two letters following indicate the country of production (here FR for France). The final digits signify the specific producer. In this post, we’ll focus on the meaning of the first digit.

0: Ninety percent of the food eaten by the chicken who laid this egg was organic (no chemicals or pesticides were used).  The chicken was raised en plein air,  that is, allowed to graze in an exterior area with 4 square meters per chicken.   There is an indoor shelter where the chicken sleeps and lays eggs, but there is a limit to the number of chickens living in the interior area. The carton will be marked “AB” indicating that this is a fully organic product.

1: This egg was laid by a free-range chicken allowed to graze in an area at least 4 square meters per chicken. 

 2: This egg was laid by an uncaged chicken but one allowed only to graze indoors.   There is a limit of 9 chickens per square meter for eggs from this location to be marked “2.”

3: This egg was raised by a caged chicken living indoors.  There may be up to 18 chickens per square meter in this location.

Eggs marked “0” are considered to be of the highest quality and are priced accordingly.

Eggs are also labeled on the packaging by their size from petit (less than 53 grams) to XL (more than 73 grams).   For comparison purposes, an American egg classified as large weighs around 57 grams.

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