Safe handling of eggs

EU Laying Hens Directive

Tuesday 13 March 2012

The Food Safety team has received reports that some catering businesses have received a letter which appears to say that it is illegal to use non-lion branded eggs. The letter goes onto say that businesses who did use such eggs could be liable to prosecution.

This letter actually refers to the EU Laying Hens Directive which came into force on 1 January 2012 and the conditions which battery hens are kept in. The letter has been sent by the British Egg Information Service and is not a food hygiene requirement.

National guidance from the Food Standards Agency states that use Lion Brand Eggs as best practice, IT IS NOT ILLEGAL TO USE EGGS THAT ARE NOT LION BRANDED, for more information you can see our Safe Handling of Eggs page which offers advice on how to ensure you are using eggs safely either in the home or in your business.

The safe storing, handling, and cooking of eggs is very important because some eggs can contain the bacteria salmonella.  This bacteria can cause serious illness, in particular to elderly people, babies, toddlers, pregnant women and people who are already unwell.

The main areas that are important to prevent bacteria from growing in eggs are as follows:


  • store eggs in a cool, dry place, preferably in a fridge
  • avoid allowing eggs to mix with other open foods.  Bacteria can be found on the egg shell which can rub-off onto other foods
  • don't use eggs after the 'best before' date or with damaged shells


  • always wash your hands after handling eggs to prevent spreading any bacteria
  • wash any equipment, utensils and worktops used for raw eggs before using with other foods


  • cook eggs thoroughly until the white and yolk is solid, particularly for dishes served to elderly people, babies, toddlers, pregnant women and people who are already unwell
  • many people enjoy having a runny yolk.  This is a personal choice, and they should be aware it can cause food poisoning

In dishes containing raw eggs, that are not cooked or lightly cooked then it is strongly recommended to use pasteurised eggs.  If you are a caterer, then the council has a list of suppliers both nationally and locally of pasteurised eggs

The Food Standards Agency have further advice on the safe use of eggs. 

Trading Standards have also produced a leaflet giving advice on the labelling requirements for Eggs.

For further information contact the Food Safety Team by calling (01273) 292161 or by email.