Comparing Egg Label Terminology

As you shop for eggs you may notice more and more labels and claims being added to the cartons. Here is an explanation of what each one means to help you choose the type of eggs you really want.


A USDA-regulated term which means that, for chickens, the flock must be provided shelter in a building or room with unlimited access to food and fresh water. Though access to the outdoors is required, neither the size of the outdoor space or time the animals are actually allowed outside are defined.


This label indicates that the flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water. This USDA-regulated term does not mean that chickens have access to the outdoors.


This means that the food or product has been produced through approved methods, which means no synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering. Organic crops and livestock are regulated by the National Organic Program, which ensures 95 percent or more of the ingredients must meet USDA organic standards.

Made with organic ingredients:

Can contain a minimum of 70 percent certified-organic ingredients.


The USDA says that meat, poultry, and egg products labeled as “natural” must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients. There are no standards for the labeling of “natural” products if they do not contain meat or eggs.


A USDA-regulated term that specifies animals receive a majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their lives. The term does not limit the use of antibiotics, hormones or pesticides.


The USDA has not developed a federal definition for pasture-raised products.


Though it’s not regulated under a single USDA definition, multiple labeling programs make “humanely treated” claims. Some labels are more respected, including Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Humane labels, though there’s some debate as to which labels are worth believing.

No added hormones:

A similar claim includes “Raised without Hormones.” Federal regulations have never permitted hormones or steroids in poultry, pork, or goat.



Lunsford, Mackensy. “How to sort out fraudulent foods.” (2014, July 22). Retrieved from


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