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FAQS About Producing and/or Selling Backyard Chicken Eggs, Backyard Henhouse Eggs or Farm Eggs in California

Below are frequently asked questions and answers regarding producing and selling eggs in California, whether you are a large producer, a farm or a backyard enthusiast.

See this page for an explanation of California egg producer requirements and regulations

Questions and Answers for California Egg Handlers who SELL any eggs

  • Q: Who needs to register as an egg handler?
    A: Anyone involved in producing, candling, grading, packing, or otherwise preparing eggs, or anyone selling or marketing eggs must register as an egg handler. This includes eggs from all species of fowl, whether in the shell or in liquid, frozen, dried, or any other form, when intended as food for human consumption. Each location where eggs are handled must be registered. This includes all egg handlers within California, and all egg handlers outside of California that do business within California. There are no exemptions to the registration requirement .Even if you do NOT sell any eggs, but just consume them yourself or give them away free to friends and neighbors, you STILL need to register. Hey, it's California, what did you expect?

  • Q: How is the Program funded?
    A: The program is funded by assessments collected from registered egg handlers. The current assessment fee is 0.10 (ten cents) per 30-dozen case of eggs sold.

  • Q: Do out-of-state companies that ship eggs into California have to register with CDFA?
    A: Yes. Anyone who sells eggs by any means in California must register and pay the assessment fee.

  • Q: What happens to eggs that do not pass state inspection?
    A: Eggs that do not pass inspection are held OFF-SALE by the State or County Enforcement Officer, and they are not released for sale until they are brought into compliance by the responsible party and reinspected and released by an authorized state or county official. Eggs that cannot be brought into compliance are destroyed or sold to breaking plants under certain conditions. Breaking plants receive shell eggs for processing into liquid egg product.

  • Q: Where are eggs inspected?
    A: Eggs are inspected at production plants, wholesale warehouses, retail facilities and farmer's markets.

  • Q: What factors determine the "grade" and size of an egg?
    A: The grade of a shell egg is determined by the size of the internal air-cell. As an egg ages, the liquid contents evaporate through its pores. The larger the air-cell is, the lower the grade of the egg. The outside appearance also factors into the grade of an egg. Eggs with moderate staining (but not adhering dirt) can be sold as grade "B." All other grades require a clean, unblemished shell appearance. Dirty eggs cannot be sold to consumers. The size of an egg is determined by its weight, in grams. A small egg must weight 40.16 grams or more, a jumbo egg must weigh 68.51 grams or more.

  • Q: Other than registering as an egg handler, is there anything else I need to do before I can legally sell eggs in California?
    A: In order to be compliant with the State of California, you only need the registration. However, your city may require a business license. Contact the city and county in which you will be selling and ask what they require.

  • Q: I have a retail store that sells eggs. Do I need to register as an egg handler?
    A: No, retail stores do not need to register, as long as they do not handle eggs in any capacity other than as a retailer. However, there are standards that retailers must meet, such as for refrigeration and signage.

  • Q: I have a small flock of chickens on my property. Do I need to register?
    A: Yes, you are considered an egg handler and therefore must register. However, if you have 500 hens or fewer and you sell all of your eggs on your premises, you are exempt from egg mill fees.

  • Q: My child is raising chickens and selling eggs as a hobby. Does she/he need to register?
    A: Yes, this is considered egg handling. It is for consumer safety that we require the registration of all egg handlers.
  • Q: I donate my flock's eggs to a food bank. Do I need to register?
    A: Yes, this is considered egg handling. It is for consumer safety that we require the registration of all egg handlers.

  • Q: I sell duck (quail, etc.) eggs but not chicken eggs. Do I need to register?
    A: Yes, handlers of eggs of all species of fowl must register as egg handlers.

  • Q: What requirements must I meet to sell duck (quail, etc.) eggs?
    A: Size and grade standards are not currently in place for eggs from other species of fowl, like ducks or quail. Such eggs do not have the same labeling requirements as chicken eggs. Containers of eggs from other species of fowl offered for sale must be marked with "I.R.Q." standards.
    I = Identity = species (for example, duck eggs)
    R = Responsibility = who produced the eggs (farm name, address, and zip code)
    Q = Quantity = number of eggs in the container

  • Q: What happens if I am caught producing and selling as an unregistered egg handler?
    A: You can face fines of up to $1,000.00 for the first offense. You may also be cited for other code violations and charged additional fines.

  • Q: Who do I contact with questions about organic eggs?
    A: Please call the Organic Program at 916-900-5030.

  • Q: I want to sell eggs at Certified Farmer's Markets. How do I get started?
    A: For questions about Certified Farmer's Markets, please contact the Direct Marketing Program at 916-900-5030. You should also contact the agricultural commissioner for the county in which you will be selling.

  • Q: I think an unregistered person is selling eggs. How can I report this?
    A: You can send an email to . You may also call 916-900-5062.
  • Q: I have a complaint about eggs I purchased. How can I report this?
    A: You can send an email to . You may also call 916-900-5062.

  • Q: I am just starting out as an egg producer. Where can I get some guidance on proper business practices, such as biosecurity, storage and refrigeration standards, labeling, grading, etc.?
    A: There are many resources available on our website. Please review the links, such as the Quick Reference Guide. ESQM holds Small Producer Workshops throughout the state, which are also listed on this webpage. You may also visit the UC Davis Cooperative Extension at
  • Q: I am no longer handling eggs. How do I cancel my registration?
    A: Please print the Egg Handlers Registration Renewal form, fill out sections 1 and 6, and mail it to CDFA, Egg Safety and Quality Management, 1220 N Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Federal Requirements (apply in all states)

  • If you have over 3,000 laying hens you must comply with US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Egg Safety Rule

Contact information for questions

Egg Safety and Quality Management Program
1220 N Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Telephone: (916) 900-5062
Fax: (916) 900-5334

Complaints and Inquiries:
Email to:


Additional California State Resources

Additional Resources



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