What Do Labels on Egg Cartons Mean?


Farmers are committed to offering many choices to consumers shopping for eggs. Check here for an explanation of different labels on egg cartons.

UEP Certified Regular and Cage-Free

The UEP Certified logo is an assurance that eggs originate from farms that follow responsible, science-based practices for hen health and well-being. Participating farms must meet UEP Certified guidelines on 100% of their hens through independent, third-party audits.

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Pastuerized

This term is regulated by the FDA and refers to eggs heated in their shells to temperatures just below the coagulation point to destroy pathogens. Pasteurized eggs can be beneficial for immune-compromised individuals.

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Fertile

Commercially produced eggs are laid by hens that have not mated with a rooster and therefore are not fertilized.

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Enriched with Omega-3

Regular eggs contain about 30 mgs of Omega-3 per egg, but Omega-3-enhanced eggs contain 100 mg to more than 600 mg per egg because the hens are fed a special diet of canola, linseed and flax seed. This label does not denote a housing system, and hens can live in a modern cage, cage-free or free-range environment.

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USDA Certified Organic

USDA Certified Organic eggs are produced according to specific USDA organic standards. Private and state agencies inspect and certify organic egg producers. The USDA Certified Organic program provides limited animal welfare guidelines and extends to hens living in modern cage housing, as well as cage-free and free-range environments.

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Pasture Raised

Pastured hens have access to the outdoors and graze primarily by eating grass and bugs, so they are exposed to higher levels of pathogens and predators. Typically, hens are kept in movable pens that move daily over fresh pasture. There are not specific guidelines for pasture-raised hens, and farms are not required to use third-party audits.

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Free-Range

Free-range eggs are produced on farms where hens have some access to the outdoors. Due to higher production costs and lower volume per farm, free-range eggs are generally more expensive. There are not specific guidelines for free-range egg production, and farms are not required to use third-party audits. In fact, farms that have less than 3,000 hens are not inspected by USDA or the FDA.

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American Humane Certified

Similar to the UEP Certified seal, eggs are produced on farms that follow science-based animal welfare standards. Eggs come from farms that are required to use independent, third-party audits to verify standards are met for cage-free, enriched colony and free-range/pasture environments.

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Hormone-Free

U.S. federal law requires that laying hens are never fed hormones. Whether or not the carton says so, all eggs are free from added hormones.

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Vegetarian Fed

Hens are fed a vegetarian diet and are not given supplements or additives in feed, such as calcium rich bone meal or crushed sea shell. This label does not denote a housing system, so hens that produce a vegetarian egg can live in conventional cages, cage-free or free-range environments.

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Humane Farm Animal Care

Meets the Humane Farm Animal Care program standards, which includes nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones and an environment with shelter, resting areas, and sufficient space to engage in natural behaviors.

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Label Definitions

UEP Certified Regular and Cage-Free

The UEP Certified logo signifies those eggs originate from farms dedicated to responsible, science-based methods to ensure optimal hen care.

USDA Certified Organic

USDA Certified Organic eggs are produced according to USDA organic standards. Private and state agencies inspect and certify organic egg producers.

American Humane Certified

Eggs are produced on farms that follow science-based animal well-being standards for cage, cage-free and enriched colony housing systems.

Humane Farm Animal Care

Standards include nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones and an environment with shelter, resting areas, and sufficient space to engage in natural behaviors.

Free Range

Free-range eggs are produced on farms where hens have some access to the outdoors. There are not specific guidelines for free-range egg production, and farms are not required to use third-party audits.

Pasture-Raised

Pastured hens have access to the outdoors and graze primarily by eating grass and bugs. There are not specific guidelines for pasture-raised egg production, and farms are not required to use third-party audits.

Pasteurized

Eggs are heated in their shells to temperatures just below the coagulation point to destroy pathogens, which may be beneficial for immune compromised individuals.

Enriched with Omega-3

Due to enhanced hen diets Omega-3 enhanced eggs contain 100 mg to more than 600 mg per egg, compared to 30 mg typical in regular eggs.

Vegetarian Fed

Hens are fed a vegetarian diet and are not given supplements or additives in their feed.

Hormone-Free

U.S. federal law requires that laying hens are never fed hormones. Whether or not the carton says so, all eggs are free from added hormones.

Fertile

Fertilized eggs can be found at specialty foods stores. Commercially raised eggs are laid by hens who have not mated with a rooster so are not fertilized.