“Eggs”planation: Demystifying the Labeling

Have you noticed that the egg section of the dairy isle has grown tremendously larger in America.  The selection is mind boggling now right along with the rise in price.  Here is a little help when it comes to selecting the best eggs to add to your cart depending on your preferences.

Organic – the hens typically receive organic feed and are not raised in cages.  The feed cannot contain animal byproducts, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, most pesticides and other unsavory ingredients.  Although antibiotics are rarely used int eh egg industry, it is POSSIBLE that organic eggs could come from hens that were given antibiotics ( a slight loophole in the regulation system).  An organic label does not cover humane treatment of the animals.

Free-Range – the hens producing these eggs were raised or are allowed outdoors.  In addition to grains, these hens may eat wild plants, and insects.  The quality of the outdoor area, and how often the hens have access to it are not addressed.

Cage-Free –  Hens are not bound to cages and have unlimited access to food and water.  Conditions vary per facility whether they are outside or inside housing.

Animal Welfare Approved – (AWA) these are from family owned farms that live up to the strictest criteria for hens’ ability to live in their natural state.  This label covers both organic feeding and humane living conditions.

Don’t be fooled by the added ingredients and supplements in eggs either.  “Enriched” eggs are not necessary unless you know you are deficient it a certain nutrient (i.e. omega 3 enriched, or protein enhanced).  By now, you know these marketing labels are often a way to hike up the price or to entice buyers to pick one brand over another.  A diet with a variety of foods is the best approach when you are low in one nutrient or another, not an “enriched” or “enhanced” version of a food.

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