We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries lately from people wanting custom stamps to decorate farm fresh eggs, but we wanted to do some research before offering them in our shop. We thought it would be a good idea to address egg stamps in a blog post because there seems to be a lot of confusion about what is and isn’t safe, and we learned a lot as we delved into the subject.
In short, we don’t make stamps for this purpose because rubber stamps are not food safe — they really should not be used on eggs that you intend to eat (even with food grade ink), and they especially should not be used on eggs you plan to sell. Want more detail? Read on…
What about all the shops that sell egg stamps?
We know that there are a lot of shops selling rubber stamps like ours for eggs (many manufactured by the same production partner we use), and we get the appeal of using a cute little stamp to brand your eggs. But we don’t want to promote something that poses a potential hazard to you, your customers, and your livelihood. As chicken keepers, we care a lot about the safety of the eggs we produce, and we won’t sell a product for use on food if that application is considered unsafe.
We contacted both the FDA and our production partner with questions, and both told us in no uncertain terms that rubber art stamps should not be used on food, even with food grade ink. This is especially a concern for eggs that will be sold, because you can face penalties from the FDA and be held liable if someone gets sick. Though it may seem innocuous, using a rubber stamp directly on your eggs constitutes adulteration according to the FDA (more on that here). Rubber stamps are a great way to decorate the outside of cartons, tags, and blown eggs — just not food.
Food Safe vs. Non-Toxic
The FDA’s policy is that an item used to stamp an egg must be entirely made out of food safe materials, and in controlled conditions to avoid contamination. Anything used to apply coloring to food (including the shells of eggs) must also be properly cleaned & sterilized between uses, which you can’t do with a porous rubber stamp.
Art stamps like ours are made from natural rubber (which is produced with a variety of chemicals & possible food contaminants), wood, foam & adhesive. While not dangerous for use in art projects, none of these are suitable for use on food. In addition to being prohibited for food use by the FDA, our production partner tells us that rubber stamps may leave a taste on food and will break down if exposed to heat and water (which is one reason why rubber stamps can’t be washed or sterilized). Chemicals in the foam and adhesive may transfer to food, along with latex from the rubber layer, and compounds used in the impression test — brand new rubber stamps often retain a small amount of gray residue from the manufacturing process, as shown below.
Non-toxic stamp pads are not designed for use on food either, though they’re often sold alongside rubber egg stamps. Non-toxic is a standard defined by the ACMI for art materials, not for food. It only indicates a lack of materials from the Federal Hazardous Substances list (such as lead), and chemicals that can cause acute illness if accidentally ingested in small quantities. In contrast, the FDA defines food safe materials — which are determined to be safe for use in food only after rigorous testing.
Is it really that serious?
You may be saying that you’ve stamped your own eggs and never had any problems, and that your customers really like them. Many people can eat contaminated food without suffering immediate consequences, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone, or that regular consumption won’t lead to long-term health issues.
Latex can cause a life-threatening reaction in people with latex allergies if there’s even brief contact with food (which is why latex gloves aren’t used in food service). Compounds used in the production of the stamp materials, or the mounting and engraving process, can potentially cause a life-threatening situation or chronic illness if ingested. Because of the porous nature of egg shells, and the fact that stamps and ink pads can’t be sterilized, bacterial contamination can also become an issue. This is a risk for everyone, but especially for children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.
We started growing our own food because we were concerned about the things happening in our food system, and we won’t take part in selling something that might cause unforeseen consequences for small egg businesses.
Okay, but I still want an egg stamp!
While we can’t create a food-safe fresh egg stamp for you directly, there are companies that make pre-loaded stamps specifically for eggs. These devices are pricier than rubber stamps, but are made using food-grade materials and a food safe manufacturing process. These vendors typically have an option to upload your own image for a custom egg stamp — and we are always happy to help you with graphics if you decide to go that route.
Any vendor selling you a stamp for use on food should be willing and able to provide you with documentation about the components of their product, FDA-compliant manufacturing specifications, and a guarantee of that product’s safety for use on food.
In addition, any food-safe coloring you use should only contain ingredients specifically approved as a food additive, and must come with those ingredients listed. You may also be required to list those ingredients as additives in your product labeling.
*Disclaimer: While we’ve both taken the necessary food safety training to open a food business, we are not experts, nor do we speak for the FDA. We encourage you to do your own research on the food safety regulations where you live, but please feel free to reach out to us with any questions.