25 April 2010

Egg code

I just published this one over at Trippist, but I'm so excited about this resource that I'm also adding it here. I've also added a link to ei-code on the sidebar.

Have you ever wondered about story behind the eggs you just purchased at the Dutch supermarket? How do you make your selection? By price? Is there some other indicator that you use? I’ve recently learned that all eggs made in Europe have their own "badge." This badge, the numbers printed on each egg, tell you which country the egg was produced in, and a little bit about the farming system (how the chicken is housed). It even specifies the actual farm where the chicken comes from.

A dedicated web site has been set up to explain these numbers in more detail. It’s in Dutch, but here’s a rough English translation:

THE FIRST NUMBER (between 0 and 4, with 0 being the best score for how the hens are treated):
0: Organic eggs come from hens kept in sheds with up to six animals per m2. The space is at least 4 m2 per laying hen. Other requirements include that the chicken should be fed largely organic food and it is not allowed to treat the beaks (e.g., cut them off, as is sadly standard practice elsewhere).

4: Within a large barn, there are three to five hens per cage. Each animal has access to at least 550 cm2 of floor space. The floor of the cages is wire mesh – when the eggs are laid they fall onto a band which collects them in bulk. (The website notes that many companies are switching to cages where the hens have access to nests, perches and a free range area).

THE COUNTRY CODE:
This is self-explanatory, where NL stands for the Netherlands, etc.

THE LAST NUMBER:
Every poultry farm in Europe has its own code. Dutch companies have a code that consists of 5 digits.

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