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Egg Labeling: What It Really Means Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Words used on Egg Cartoons

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Egg cartons are covered with claims. Some are regulated by the govern­ment; others are not. Here’s what the labels mean:

Glossary: Egg Labels

Cage-free: Chickens must have room to roam (not necess­arily outdoors) and have unlimited access to food and water.

Free-r­ange: Birds are cage-free with continuous outdoor access during their laying cycle.

No added hormones: This label is meanin­gless, since all eggs in the U.S. must be hormon­e-free.

No added antibi­otics: No hens receive antibi­otics unless they’re sick, and their eggs are diverted from the human food supply.

Vegeta­ria­n-fed: This may be important to vegeta­rians who eat eggs, since chickens are omnivores that naturally nibble grubs, worms and such.

Organic: USDA-c­ert­ified organic eggs must come from cage-free, free-range hens fed an organic diet produced without conven­tional pesticides or fertil­izers.

Omega-3 enriched: Hens’ diet includes seeds, fish oil and/or algae to ensure they lay eggs three to five times richer in heart-­healthy omega-3 fatty acids than conven­tional eggs.

Pasteu­rized: Eggs are heated to destroy pathog­ens—a smart choice when a recipe calls for uncooked eggs.

Pastur­e-r­aised: This is an unregu­lated term but indicates hens are free to graze in a pasture.

Egg Label

Egg Chart

Egg Chart Nutrient Content