How to shop for Eggs? What do the labels mean?

How do you select eggs? Do you break into a sweat in the egg department?

Let me help you out:

Organic

Label regulated by the USDA: .

indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods for cultural, biological, and mechanical practices

Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used

Outdoor access:

means nothing

It doesn’t mean the hens actually go outdoors—this could mean that there’s a little door, that if the farmer were to open the door they could “access” the outdoors. There are actually no space requirements

Non-GMO:

This only means that hens are fed a diet that is free from GMOs

That does not mean that the food is organic. Or imply anything else

Vegetarian Feed:

Hens aren’t officially vegetarians. They eat worms and grubs, etc

This essentially means that the feed they’re given doesn’t have animal byproducts, like ground up chicken

Cage-free:

label is regulated by the USDA

Hens can move freely within the building/hen house, and have unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle

There are no space requirements

Certified Humane status:

there must be 1.5 square feet per hen, litter for dust bathing, perches for the birds, and ammonia levels at a maximum of 10 ppm, which means the scent is imperceptible

Free-range:

label regulated by the USDA

continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle, which may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material

it doesn’t actually stipulate what that outdoor access really means, or how much space is required

Pasture-raised

NOT regulated by the USDA

108-square-feet per bird per Certified Humane

Currently, Vital Farms is the only egg purveyor that is accredited as Pasture Raised by Certified Humane.

Natural:

This label means nothing

No added hormones

Federal regulations have never allowed the use of hormones or steroids in poultry, pork, or goats

Look for no antibiotics were used

Humane

Not regulated by the USDA. Doesn’t mean much

Animal Welfare Approved

farmers can’t have a flock of > 500

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In Good Health, Dr. Ana-Maria

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