Concientitous-Omnivore-SERI

The Conscientious Omnivore: Eggs

Eggs are a staple in many of our refrigerators.  They provide a complete, easily available protein source (you can buy eggs just about anywhere these days – even your local gas station), at a cost that most health-conscious families consider to be reasonable and affordable.   But “cheap” eggs are not really cheap when you factor in all of the hidden costs to the environment, animal welfare, society and your health.  In addition, reading and interpreting the claims made on an egg carton is a confusing and complex task.  Labels like “vegetarian fed”, “all natural” and “cage-free” may sound healthier, but often these stamps are worth less than the ink with which they’re printed.

THE HIDDEN COST OF CHEAP EGGS

The unfortunate truth is that buying eggs is confusing on purpose.  The factory farming system (which produces a full 95% of eggs sold in the U.S.) wants you to think its chickens are raised in a humane and healthy fashion.  None of that is true.  The health of the animals you eat has a direct and powerful impact on your health… and factory farmed chickens are not healthy, happy animals.

  • In a typical factory farming system (see “United Egg Producers Certified” below), hens have 67 square inches of cage space per bird.  This is less area than a sheet of paper.  (Imagine living your whole life confined to an area the size of a stand-up shower.)  The hens are confined in restrictive, barren battery cages and cannot perform many of their natural behaviors, including spreading their wings.
  • An abundance of scientific evidence demonstrates that these cages are detrimental to animal welfare, and they are opposed by nearly every major US and EU animal welfare group.
  • There are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed.  Which means their diets include not only soy, grains and corn, but tons (literally) of post-slaughter animal waste products like meat and bone meal, rendered chicken carcasses, rendered feathers, hair, and skin (often under catch-all categories like “animal protein products”), manure and other animal waste, and plastics.  These are facts, not hyperbole.
  • They are also routinely given antibiotics (a must, given their slum-like, unsanitary living conditions), which leads to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, ever-increasing salmonella outbreaks and recalls, and cross-contamination of these bacteria with humans. Hens are also fed other dietary additives (including arsenic) to prevent disease.
  • As hens living in such cramped conditions exhibit stress-induced aggression, panic and fear responses, beak cutting (without anesthesia) is not only permitted, but the rule rather than the exception.  In addition, forced molting through starvation (so the hens produce more eggs) is also a permitted and common practice.  These same inhumane practices, if applied to the treatment of dogs, would be considered illegal and punishable by law.

Lest you think we’ve pulled one or two egregious farms out of the mix and are holding them up as a worst-case example, please read a bit about the poultry farming industry from Farm Sanctuary, one of the leading animal welfare institutes in the country.  And if you don’t trust some fringe-y group you’ve never heard of, how about the Humane Society?   The stark reality is that there are no worst-case examples, as every factory farm is run exactly the same.

The below egg carton label information comes primarily from the Humane Society web site, as updated in October 2010.

EGG CARTON LABELS:  THESE TERMS ARE MORE OR LESS MEANINGLESS

While these labels sound healthy, on their own, they hold zero value in evaluating the health or treatment of the hens, or their eggs.  These are labels straight from the factory farming system, designed simply to confuse health-conscious consumers.

Natural: Meaningless.  According to the USDA, the “natural” label can be placed on a product containing no artificial ingredient or added color and is only minimally processed. This label in no way refers to the way an animal was raised, nor the feed, antibiotics or additives it was given.  Animals raised in the factory farming system can by all rights still carry the label “natural.” Do any of those practices described above sound at all natural to you?

No Added Hormones: Indicates that the animals were raised without added growth hormones. Sounds good, right?  But by U.S. law,  poultry cannot be given any hormones.   Which means the use of this label on your eggs is totally misleading.   We told you, these labels are sneaky.

Omega-3 Enriched: This label alone has no relevance to the animal’s welfare, living conditions or health.  Hens fed flax (which translates to a tiny bit of added Omega-3 in their eggs) may still be subjected to the same factory farming conditions and diet as the rest of the non-flax fed hens.

Vegetarian-Fed: These birds’ feed does not contain animal waste products… but that’s about it.   They still may come from the factory farming system, which means this label does not have significant relevance to the animals’ living conditions, welfare or health.

United Egg Producers Certified: Perhaps the worst of the bunch, this voluntary program permits routine cruel and inhumane factory farm practices. These are the exact “factory farming” conditions we speak of above, although their “certification program” might lead you to believe otherwise.  In addition, they’ll tell you that compliance is verified through third-party auditing. (Compliance to what?  Cruel and inhumane practices?)

EGG CARTON LABELS:  BETTER, BUT NOT AS GOOD AS YOU MIGHT THINK

These labels mean something in terms of animal health, living conditions and/or welfare… but certainly not all three at the same time.  Which means your “organic” eggs are still living in cramped, disease-ridden conditions, and your “cage-free” hens are still fed animal waste products.  Buyer beware.

Cage-Free: Note, there is no legal definition for this term. Hens laying eggs labeled as “cage-free” are un-caged and generally have a bit more space than battery-caged hens.  But they’re still crammed inside barns or warehouses, are unable to exhibit their normal, natural behaviors, and generally are without any access to the outdoors.   Beak cutting is permitted, and the term “cage-free” says nothing of the hens’ diets, or whether they are given antibiotics or other additives.  In addition, there is no third-party auditing of this system.

Free-Range or Free-Roaming: The USDA has defined nofree-rangestandards, and allows egg producers to freely label any egg as such. Typically, free-range hens are un-caged inside barns or warehouses and have some degree of outdoor access.  (However, we’ve already mentioned what that “outdoor access” could mean.)    As Jonathan Safran Foer says in Eating Animals, “I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range.”

In addition, this label alone means there are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed (antibiotics, animal waste products, additives, etc.), and beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. There is no third-party auditing of this system.

Certified Organic: The birds are un-caged inside barns or warehouses, and are required to have outdoor access.  However, that “outdoor access” could mean a tiny door on one side of the barn, which opens to a “yard” big enough to hold only 3% of the hens living in the enclosed structure at any given time, which may or may not ever be open.  (It certainly doesn’t mean that your organic hens ever spend any time actually outside.)  In addition, the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are also permitted.

The good news?  They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of animal by-products, antibiotics and pesticides, as required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  These animals’ organic foods also cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot be irradiated.  Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

EGG CARTON LABELS:  YOUR BEST CHOICES

These certifications actually mean something, either on their own or in conjunction with another (meaningful) label like “certified organic”.  Look for these labels at your local health food store, Whole Foods or other independent food co-ops, as you’re not likely to find these at a normal grocery store.

Certified Humane: Certified Humane is a program of Humane Farm Animal Care. The birds are un-caged inside barns or warehouses, but may or may not spend time outside in their natural habitat. (Refer to the specific farm and product to determine whether their birds are outdoors – “pastured” – or not.)  They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density and number of perches and nesting boxes.  Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, however minor beak cutting is still allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

Food Alliance Certified: Food Alliance Certified is a program of the Food Alliance.  The birds are cage-free and access to outdoors or natural daylight is required. They must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching and dust bathing. There are specific requirements for stocking density, perching, space and nesting boxes. Starvation-based molting is prohibited, but minor beak cutting is still allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.

The following labels hold no legal definition, but are used by farmers to indicate their eggs were produced in a manner healthy for the environment, their chickens and you.  Don’t immediately dismiss them just because they aren’t regulated, but don’t take their claims at face value either.  Do some research to find out whether the eggs in your cart meet your standards of healthy, humanely raised animal products.

Pastured: While there is no legal definition for the term “pastured”, it refers to chickens allowed to roam in open pastures. They don’t just have “access to the outdoors” – they actually are outdoors for a good portion of their lives.  Advocates of pastured eggs believe that the chickens are happier and healthier, and nutritional analysis has shown that pastured eggs are also richer in useful nutritious elements like omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin C.  Usually used in conjunction with “organic”, indicating that the hens are fed an organic diet, and aren’t given antibiotics or exposed to synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.  These two elements combined (“pastured” + “organic”) are a “best choice”.

Happy Hens: We’ve seen this claim on more than one egg carton, and when it’s used in conjunction with other terms like “certified organic” and “pastured”, we’re more likely to believe the claims.  We’ll also do our research, however, calling the farm or checking out their web site to learn more about the manner in which their hens are raised and fed.  (Check out this description of the “dream life” of hens living at Soul Food Farms in Vacaville, CA.  We’d buy their eggs, despite the fact that “dream life” isn’t a legally defined term.)

Ethically Raised: Again, not a legally defined term, but indicates that the producers are thinking about the health and happiness of their animals.  Do your research, as above.

NO LABELS?  SOMETIMES, THAT’S A GOOD THING.

Finally, don’t immediately dismiss your local farmer’s market offerings just because they don’t have fancy (and often expensive) certifications on their homemade egg cartons!  If you can find a local farm with healthy, happy, naturally fed chickens being raised in a humane and ethically defensible way, those eggs would earn our top marks.  Call the farm, or even better, stop by and visit!  A farmer truly concerned for his animals and his consumers will be more than happy to give you the tour and allow you to see where you food comes from.  (Try that with a factory farm.)

In closing, happy, healthy chickens = a healthier egg, which leads to a healthier YOU!  Don’t let the confusing factory farming system trick you into supporting something you’re not in favor of.  Vote with your dollar, and support those egg producers who truly care about the environment, animal welfare and your health.

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/impacts_industrial_agriculture/they-eat-what-the-reality-of.html

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Comments

  1. eileen says

    I was an ethical vegetarian. I’m now paleo. I still can’t eat meat or eggs I believe to be created through torture. i love these articles. thank you.

  2. says

    Great post! I love that you are doing this series. It is so important to our health, the environment and animal welfare to choose quality sources of meat – yet, it is very confusing so these posts are so helpful!
    I took a chicken butchery class several months ago where we learned so much about the farming practises (in Canada) – after that class, I never hesitated to spend the extra $ on my chicken and eggs. Not sure if you ever saw this, but Jamie Oliver did a good show called “Jamie’s Fowl Dinners” a while ago that documented chicken farming practises and he had people taste test factory farm meat & eggs vs humanely raised. It was disturbing, but also very educational (and memorable) to see the visuals.

  3. says

    Mine say Gotreaux Farms on them. I go out to the farm once per week and purchase eggs, meat and veggies all grown organically (not certified but I have toured the farm they have shown me how the animals are treated). They are about $5/carton and absolutely delicious! Get to know your local farmers, it helps you get the food that you want and has positive economic effects.

  4. Kim says

    Thank you for this post! I recently started purchasing eggs from a local farmer who has happy healthy chickens running about eating worms from the ground :) When I asked what the chickens were fed, I was told that they were fed an organic vegetarian diet, which includes wheat and soy. Are most chickens grain-fed, and is that ok?

  5. says

    @Mindith: “Fertile” just means the eggs were laid by hens who lived with rooster. It tends to mean the chickens are cage-free, but says absolutely zero about their welfare, living conditions, or the health of the eggs. (The term “organic” means something… but “fertile”, not so much.)

  6. says

    I forgot to add a big THANK YOU to Dallas and Melissa for running this series. This is information that needs a light shed on it. For those of you who have not viewed it check out the documentary Food INC. It was enough to motivate me to drive out to see my local farmer.

  7. says

    I don’t think it’s possible to raise grain-free chickens. Maybe somewhere someone is doing it, but it would have to be in a part of the country that has a very good climate and they would need a lot of land.

    We have chickens on our family ranch. They are free to roam anywhere they want, but we also supplement with corn and commercial laying mash. Even in the winter when there is little food to forage and they are mostly on grain, the eggs are still fantastic.

  8. says

    Kim,

    Yes, most chickens are grain-fed. It’s not that it’s their “natural” diet, since wild fowl normally eat a blend of bugs, grubs, wild seeds, plants, small reptiles, etc., but it is generally a necessary evil. In confined areas, even in a generously-sized “pastured” farm setting in a temperate climate (i.e., most of the US), the birds don’t have enough area to roam and “hunt” to supply their total dietary requirements, and must be (or at least generally are) supplemented with calorie-dense feed (made from grains, generally). And, of course, they can’t be outside in a Michigan winter. So… while it’s not perfect, organic, pastured chicken (and eggs) are the next best thing to shooting your own wild turkey, or finding wild fowl eggs in the forest.

    Tami C,

    Thanks for sharing your firsthand experience. We had chickens and geese growing up, but that was… a lot of years ago. ;) Does your laying mash contain fish meal as a protein source? We’ve heard of some that use fish as a protein source, and those eggs end up with a few more omega-3′s in them, which is good. Just wondering what you guys did.

  9. Casey Head says

    As some have already said, the only way to be 100% sure where your eggs are coming from is to raise a few hens. But due to restrictive city ordinances and zoning laws, this isn’t an option for many of us. Thankfully a couple of months out of the year I have the option of purchasing organic pastured eggs from an Amish family that frequents our local farmer’s market.

  10. Lauren G. says

    Although I sometimes feel like I get the short end of the stick living in Germany without access to some healthier options for foods, that is certainly not the case with my eggs! I get my eggs from a farmer in a village where my friends live. Not everyone may have the same opportunity, but there’s something to be said for putting eyeballs on the chickens producing your eggs, seeing the area outside that they roam around in (although now that winter is coming that won’t be happening for a while), and shaking the hand of the farmer taking care of them and selling you their product. My German isn’t so great and I imagine it would be quite a challenge to ask them all the specifics of what kind of feed they have and how long they stay outside, but the proof is in the eggs I eat that have a deep orange yolk and an actual taste to them.

  11. Matt C. says

    Great article. We usually buy our eggs from the same people we buy our pastured meat. They have the same sort of setup as described at Polyface farms in Food, Inc. and Omnivore’s Dilemma (rotational grazing, egg-mobile, etc.). The eggs are… incredible (sorry), and easily identified by their orange and firm yolks.

    So here’s the irony. This summer’s egg-salmonella scare caused such a run at the farmer’s market, that for a few weeks, I couldn’t get eggs there, and had to purchase store-bought eggs. Luckily (for me), once the eye of the media-hype-machine moved onto something else, people forgot why they were paying $4.50 a dozen and I’ve been able to buy them again. :-)

  12. Renee says

    you guys had me panicking when i read your blog post at work yester. I got home to confirm that yes, my cage-free eggs from Market Basket ARE certified humane. phew!

    which is the better designation from the standpoint of happy chickens laying healthy eggs (nice o3/o6 ratios)? the cage free or vegetarian fed? the whole “soy, corn and lack of digging up grubs” of a vegetarian diet concerns me…thoughts?

  13. Karyn M. says

    Great article! We have finally taken the plunge to buy grass-fed beef and pork. When we picked up the hogs from the farmer’s wife at the local farmer’s market last weekend, we also bought a couple of dozen eggs, and she was more than happy to answer any questions we had concerning how the animals were raised. Predators seem to be a real problem for free range chickens, so this particular farm has mobile chicken coops to protect them at night. I thought that was quite innovative. Feeling good about our current food choices. Trying to get use to the flavor of grass-fed beef…

  14. Veronica says

    Chickens are naturally omnivorous and cannibalistic. Before factory farming, chickens raised “responsibly” by small farmers and homesteaders were fed meat and animal by-products including bone and fat. Chickens need protein in diet, egg layers need more than meat chickens. Where are they supposed to get there essential amino acids from? Our home grown free range chickens eat whatever they can forage for outside AND scraps from our kitchen including meat & animal fat. They’ll even eat their own eggs sometimes and we’ve made “mash” for chicks from scrambled eggs. My kids think our home grown chicken tastes better than the stuff we buy from the grocery store.

    So, while I don’t condone factory farm practices of today. Not all their feed practices are “in-humane”.

  15. says

    Dallas — I’m not sure what is in the mash. I almost don’t want to know, because it is the only supplemental feed option that is affordable and accessible in our area. ;-) I’ll look at the bag when I get a chance.

    I also totally agree with Veronica about the chickens needing/wanting meat. Ditto on everything she said. The only problem with the factory farms feeding animal by-products to chickens is who knows what it is and where it comes from. Likely dead diseased animals, animal waste, etc. is included. I don’t know that for sure, but that is thought to be one of the factors that caused BSE (Mad Cow Disease) The feed companies put ground up diseased animals and chicken poop in cattle feed, among other things. No responsible farmer would knowingly feed such things to their livestock, not even to omnivores like chickens or pigs.

  16. says

    Veronica is bang-on. It’s never a good thing to see ‘vegetarian fed’ on anything having to do with chickens. Chickens need protein. At the farm I apprenticed on, we fed the chickens the hog entrails when we butchered them. We also fed them gristle, fat, and threw in whole heads from lamb, bison, and cattle. If anyone thinks a chicken is a vegetarian, they should bare witness to what happens to chickens eating meat. ‘Primal’ would be the word (or, perhaps, even savage).

    One of the biggest problems with both meat chickens and layers right now is the abundance of soy in their feed. Whether organic or not, there is a lot of soy in those birds. The only way to know what your chickens have eaten and how they live is to find a local farmer, CSA, or food buying club that let’s you check all this stuff out for yourself. If I don’t know where a chicken came from, I assume there was soy in the diet and I just won’t eat it or feed it to my children.

    If you ever stick your head near a bag of “omega 3 enriched” poultry feed, you might be surprised. The flax is extruded. That means, it’s been ‘pushed’ through high heat pressure gizmos to make a flake. The flax is totally rancid. If anything, I would avoid those eggs over even regular eggs.

    We have a network of farmers in our area that raise their chickens using herring as the protein source instead of soy. That, in addition to the chickens being pastured, providing extra protein and nutrients, delivers a superior end result. However, to do this, the genetics that need to be used are from heirloom breads that do well in our frigid climate, mature more slowly and therefore cost more money to raise. Still, there’s waiting lists for people trying to get their hands on these eggs and meat.

  17. says

    Mike M,

    Ha. We just put The Meatrix link up on our W9 Facebook page a couple days ago. Good stuff, especially for kids.

    Renee,

    Unfortunately, neither “cage free” nor “vegetarian fed” are best choices. We’d hunt for better (local, ideally) sources. Once you find them, you can stock up since eggs keep for weeks and weeks.

    Veronica,

    While chickens are certainly omnivorous, I think calling them “naturally cannibalistic” might be an overstatement. Chicken is not a normal part of a chicken’s diet. Of course they do need protein, which would “naturally” come from insects, some seeds, and small reptiles and amphibians. We’re only opposed to the feeding of chicken by-products (like ground up male layer chicks or old, “retired” layer hens) to the chickens, either layers or broilers. Like Tami said, feeding animals their own species has been though to create issues like BSE, and on no planet do we think cannibalism is a viable, “normal”, or acceptable feeding option.

  18. Veronica says

    @Dallas, while it may not be a preferred diet, we’ve witnessed chickens naturally, cannibalize their own eggs, and to a degree, deceased birds in the flock. *shrugs*

  19. says

    Hello,

    Very informative article. Do you know anything abut Barnstar farms eggs? I get them at Trader Joe’s and my local Safeway. They are labeled as “cafe free” “barn raised hens” fed “vegetarian diet” and are united egg producers certified. This basically reads like all the things to watch out for in your article, so I wanted to know if this particular brand had any research done on them to see if they are ethical or not. My hunch is maybe not.

  20. says

    @Michael: The labels alone tell me you can do much, much better. While your eggs may be sold at a high end, “healthy” food store like Trader Joe’s, that doesn’t mean the animal products are actually of high quality, or that the company is actually concerned with animal welfare or health.

    As an interesting aside, the Trader Joe’s brand of egg received a ZERO score in the above linked Cornucopia report. Zero. Trader Joe’s corporate headquarters responded to an inquiry about the conditions of their own brand of laying hens by saying, “The hens live in barns with some access to the outdoors. They are debeaked because that is necessary to keep them from injuring each other.” If, in fact, Trader Joe’s deems debeaking as necessary, then this immediately reveals the high density of birds. Under a true free range setting, hens can establish a “pecking order” and none is in danger so long as she can move easily to a different area. Under a high-stress, high-density environment, a natural pecking order cannot be established and the sharp beaks of hens can result in injury (and death) to large numbers of birds.

    Yes, I would say you can do better.

    Best,
    Melissa

    Best,
    Melissa

  21. says

    I just checked the ingredients in the commercial laying mash we use. Grains, plant products, and tons of vitamins and minerals. It states specifically on the label that there are no animal products in the feed. Apparently, it is illegal in our state (South Dakota) to put animal products in ANY livestock feed. The rules are so strict that feed stores are not even allowed to transport livestock feed and dog/cat food in the same trucks.

  22. says

    Me again… I just read this artcile about Whole Foods implementing a rating system on all their meats. Looks interesting and sounds like a good idea on paper. I wonder who is on the committee and whether it’ll end up being a ‘buy your rating’ kind of program or something legit. It likely won’t come to Canada for a while, so I’d be anxious to hear feedback from you US peep’s.

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-1114-meat-ranking-20101115,0,4256344.story

  23. says

    @Summer: We noticed the other day that Whole Foods has implemented the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch” ratings for all of their seafood choices. It was extremely gratifying (and surprising) to see a bright red “AVOID” sticker on the farmed mahi-mahi they were selling. We’d have to research their meat rating system in greater detail before we’d buy into it, though. We’ll keep an eye out and perhaps do a review here once we have a better idea of their standards. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Best,
    Melissa

  24. ElizabethJ says

    I’m going out to visit a local Amish farm today. I’m so excited. I called them yesterday and they called me back within 2 hours. Yay!!!
    The only problem is right now they don’t have any eggs or poulty that I can buy. He said the hens, b/c of the shorter days, haven’t been laying many eggs. However, its a step in the right direction.
    I’m also going to visit a local market that was suggested by a lovely couple at the workshop on Sunday.

  25. John says

    The United Egg Producers is a discredited trade organization with a sordid history of consumer fraud and animal cruelty. The “UEP Certified” program allows hens to be confined in cages that provide each animal less space than a sheet of paper to spend her life. More at http://www.humanesociety.org/uep

  26. says

    John: That is true, yes. We have an entire paragraph in our article (above) about the UEP, in fact. (We’ve cited the same Humane Society source, too, I believe.) Thanks for reading – Melissa

  27. J. Mc. says

    I have 11 hens and 1 rooster and they live in a coop with a 20 ft by 30 ft area that i put chicken wire around and they also roam in the yard freely every day after i get off work i was wondering if that was enough room for them to be happy and healthy in any suggestions welcome

  28. Dan Runion says

    I stopped at a local farm the other day on a quest to find “clean eggs” and experienced something that I’ve also experienced at farmer’s markets. I asked the farmer about what they feed the chickens and if they were “free range.” Seems ok right? Well, my feeling was one of distrust. The fact that I’m asking the question at all pretty much tells them what answer I want to hear no? So how can I be sure, short of raising my own chickens? What questions can I ask to help weed out the legit, responsible farmers, from the ones just trying to sell another dozen eggs?

    thanks for the help.

    dan

  29. says

    Dan, you can only do the best you can with the information you have. You could always ask to visit the farm (even if you have no intention of actually visiting), because if the farmer welcomes you, that’s a good indicator that they are proud of their farming practices, and are speaking the truth. Heck, if you are able – go visit! That’s the best indicator.

    Perhaps a more open ended question (how do you feed your chicken, and in what kind of environment are they raised?) might get you more information. Asking if chicken have lots of time outside (or just “access”), how much land they have to roam, how much of their diets come from their natural environment and how much is supplemented are all good questions too – but don’t fall down the rabbit-hole on this one, okay? Do the best you can with the resources and information you have available to you.

    Best,
    Melissa

  30. Mario says

    I just bought some eggs at the grocery that say they are Pasteurized Shell Eggs, hormone free, antibiotic free, kosher. They are made bydavidsons safest choice and website is safeEggs. Com
    Any help?

  31. says

    Mario, you’ve got most of this info in the post above for comparison. Pasteurized says nothing about the health of the animals or the quality of the eggs – only that they were heated to prevent bacterial contamination. In this country, hormones are illegal to give to chicken, so “hormone free” tells you absolutely nothing. Antibiotic free is a good start, but we’d still prefer someone looking for high quality eggs to find pastured, organic products. Do the best you can with what you have.

    David, Google! http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.html

    “American Humane Certified: This label allows both cage confinement and cage-free systems. Each animal who is confined in these so-called “furnished cages” has about the space of a legal-sized sheet of paper. An abundance of scientific evidence demonstrates that these cages are detrimental to animal welfare, and they are opposed by nearly every major US and EU animal welfare group. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing. American Humane Certified is a program of American Humane Association.”

    Doesn’t sound very healthy or humane for the chicken to us, even if it is a program of the American Humane Society.

    Best,
    Melissa

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