The skinny on egg claims

Beware of food labeling


Do you find shopping for eggs a baffling experience? I do. I could stand in front of the refrigerated section at the grocery store and come up with dozens of questions as I scanned the egg cartons: Is it worth the money to buy cage-free eggs? What does hormone-free mean? Which hens run around more: the cage free or the free range? How do eggs become Omega-3 enriched?

Here's the skinny:
  1. Free range may seem to indicate that hens can wander around freely, but this isn't the case. The term is regulated by the USDA, and it means that the hens had unlimited access to food and fresh water and were able to get outdoors. However, the amount of time they are allowed outside, and the quality and size of the outside space, is not regulated.
  2. Unfortunately, Cage free doesn't mean the hens are allowed to roam freely outside soaking up the sunshine. Instead, it means the hens had unlimited access to food and fresh water and were able to move around freely in either an indoor or outdoor area.
  3. Hormone-free is a redundant claim. The USDA doesn't allow hormone use in raising any poultry, so don't pay extra for eggs making this type of claim. 
  4. Omega-3 enriched eggs come from hens that were fed diets rich in omega-3's: their feed was enriched with ingredients like flax seed and fish oil. Experts are divided on whether or not these eggs are healthier than the regular variety. 

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