Carton Sense

The way to Make Sense of Egg Carton Labels

If you think the periodic table is confusing, take a look at the egg carton labels of your local grocery store. So many words! So many symbols! And why are some cartons $2 a dozen and others $8? If you’re seeking the best choice in terms of hen welfare and environmental sustainability, look for eggs that…

If you think the table is confusing, have a look at the egg carton tags of your regional grocery shop. So many words! So many symbols! And why are a few cartons $2 a dozen and others ? 

If you are seeking the very best choice concerning hen welfare and environmental sustainability, search for eggs that are pasture-raised or free-range, humanist, and organic. ) These eggs will cost you more, but they are better for the farmers, the animals, and the planet. In the shop, we reach Handsome Brook Farms, Vital Farms, Carol’s, and Pete and Gerry’s. Or have a trip to the farmers market, where you could ask the farmer about the hens they came from and guide your cash straight to the source. The eggs are likely to be fresher too. 

For more details about egg carton labels, take a look at the list below, arranged by exactly what the phrases broadly refer to:


Various third-party associations give seals, like Certified Humane, American Humane Certified, also American Welfare Approved by AGW, to signal a farm fulfills requirements for factors like flock density and beak trimming. These criteria vary by business and therefore are decided differently for cage-free, free-range, or pasture-raised eggs.

Cage-free and free-range

Though these conditions are regulated by the USDA, they are ambiguous and misleading. Generally, they refer to eggs from chickens who reside in open barns or warehouses rather than in battery cages (as is true for conventional eggs). Free-range birds have some type of access to the outdoors (often better than nothing), but the size and quality of that area isn’t ordered. Cage-free do not.


Since this expression isn’t regulated by the USDA, it doesn’t mean anything unless it is also verified humane by a third party organization (like the three listed above). If so, it suggests the maximum standard of welfare and space. Because so much space is necessary, these eggs are inclined to be cultivated on smaller farms with fewer birds (state, 10,000 as compared to 250,000).

Certified organic

Don’t confuse this term with a stamp of humane treatment. Like free-range and free-roaming, the birds possess unspecified exterior access. The distinction is that they’re fed organic feed with no animal by-products, hormones, antibiotics, or pesticides. To get pasture-raised birds, the land they graze on must meet organic requirements.


The hens are fed a diet that doesn’t contain any GMOs (however that is not necessarily organic).

Omega-3 improved

All eggs contain small quantities of omega-3 fatty acids in their yolks, however these birds are fed nutritional supplements, like flaxseed, fish oil, and alfalfa meal, to grow these amounts.


Pasteurization kills any harmful bacteria inside or away from the egg, which is useful for men and women who like to eat eggs runny or in raw forms (such as Caesar dressing) but can not risk any chance of foodborne illness.

Natural, farm-fresh, and vegetarian-fed

Ignore this moot marketing lingo. “Vegetarian-fed” is especially dicey–cows are natural omnivores (grub and worms, yum); when they’re”vegetarian,” odds are they are confined indoors.

Grade AA, A, or B

This identifies the eggs’ appearance–the higher the quality (AA is the highest), the more sporty and spot-free the egg, with firm whites, pert yolks, and c

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