Egg cartons are covered with claims. Some are regulated by the government; others are not. Here's what the labels mean:
CAGE-FREE Chickens must have room to roam (not necessarily outdoors) and have unlimited access to food and water.
FREE-RANGE Birds are cagefree 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.
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