Eggs

Raising chickens is an activity that is gaining in popularity, even in more urban settings. Humans have been raising chickens and using their eggs as a food source for thousands of years. In fact, they were among the first animal species to be domesticated by humans. It's really no wonder such a handy and easily cared for food source is still popular today. However, selling the eggs produced by chickens is a little more complex than raising the chickens themselves. Requirements vary depending on the size of the operation and who the eggs are marketed to. Fortunately for small-scale producers, legislation was recently passed which eased some of the licensing requirements for small-scale producers, meaning it's easier for them to get their eggs to market. For full details on the legislation you can reference the document to the left of this web page, or alternately an outline of the new requirements is listed below. 

Licensing

Licensing requirements are most directly affected by the size of the production. Producers are grouped into two categories; small-scale producers and large-scale producers. Small-scale producers own 150 egg-producing birds or fewer, while large-scale producers own more than 150 egg-producing birds. 

  

Licensing Requirements for Small-Scale Producers 

  • No processing plant license is required if small-scale producers sell directly to consumers, at farmers’ markets, or on egg sale routes. 

    • If small-scale producers wish to sell eggs anywhere other than from their farms (including farmers’ markets, egg routes, etc.) then they must still obtain a mobile food retail establishment license. State and county applications for this license can be found at the bottom of this page, under "Related Documents."

    • There are also food safety requirements in addition to the licensing requirements that small-scale producers must meet: 

      • Eggs must be sold directly to consumers (not wholesale)

      • Eggs must be packaged in a carton labeled with all necessary labeling information (see “labeling” below). 

      • Packaged eggs must be kept at an ambient temperature of not more than 41 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. 

  • Producers exempt from food processing plant license requirements must still register their business with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (this registration is free). 

    • This is completed via the Nest-Run Egg Producer and Seller Registration form (download the document by clicking this link.)

 

Licensing Requirements for Large-Scale Producers 

  • Large-scale producers (>150 birds) must acquire a food processing plant license before their products can be legally packaged and sold in Wisconsin. 

    • The only exemption from this requirement is the sale of nest-run eggs to an egg handler who holds a valid food processing plant license. 

      • These eggs must also be stored at or below 41 degree Fahrenheit

      • These eggs must also follow labeling requirements outlined below

    • Nest-run eggs are eggs that are not washed, graded, or candled.  

 

Obtaining Licenses

  

 Egg Grading and Weights

Eggs are graded based on the results of a process known as candling.
  • During candling an egg is placed in front of a bright light that illuminates the egg’s interior, allowing the inner details to be examined.
  • An egg’s grading is based on the distinctness of the yolk outline (a less visible outline indicates better quality), the air cell in the egg (a smaller air cell means better quality), blood and meat spots (these are undesirable), and surface cracks on the shell. 
  • The video to the left details the differences between AA (highest quality), A, and B grade (lowest quality) eggs. 

 

Weights simply determine the terminology that may be printed on the carton describing the size of the eggs (large, extra large, etc.)
  • Egg weights are unrelated to grading. The approximate weights of a dozen eggs of each size are as follows:
    • Jumbo- approximately 30 oz. or more
    • Extra Large- approximately 27 oz. or more
    • Large- approximately 24 oz. or more
    • Medium- approximately 21 oz. or more
 

Labeling

Eggs sold in Wisconsin are required to display the following information on the carton:
  • A declaration of product identity
  • A declaration of responsibility in the form of a packer identification number or shell egg handler registration number identifying the state of origin as follows:  WI##. 
  • A declaration of net quantity
  • Nutrition labeling
  • Grade and size of the eggs in letters not less than 3/16 inch high. 
  • A “keep refrigerated” statement or its equivalent
  • The date the eggs were packed
  • An expiration date or “sell by” date not more than 30 days from the packing date OR a “use by” date
  • A safe handling statement, such as “To prevent illness from bacteria: Keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.”
  • Shipping packaging must contain all of the information above, listed on one end, in letters not smaller than half an inch tall. 

 

Labeling Exemptions:

  • There are only two instances in which eggs may be exempt from labeling requirements:
    • When eggs are being shipped from a producer to a packer
    • When the eggs are being sold directly to a consumer on the premises where the eggs were produced
  • Small producers are also exempt from nutrition labeling requirements (but not from the other required labeling information.)

 

For full retail food labeling requirements, reference the attached "Retail Food Labeling Requirements" document in the Additional Resources section at the left of this page.