e-Wise Woman: Health tips for women on the go | Issue 1 | Spring 2011

Egg Shell Game

Here's the scoop behind some common egg carton label terms:


  • Certified Organic: Hens are fed an organic, vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides. Hens live uncaged inside barns or warehouses. While they have outdoor access, how much and what quality is not defined.
  • Omega-3 Enriched: Chickens are fed plants, insects, flax seeds and algae. While regular eggs contain about 30 mg omega-3s per egg, omega-3-enhanced eggs provide from 100 to over 600 mg per egg.
  • Vegetarian-Fed: The birds' feed does not contain animal byproducts but may not be organic and does not mean the hens enjoy good living conditions.
  • Fertile: Hens live with roosters, which means they are probably not caged.
  • Certified Humane: While hens are uncaged inside barns or warehouses, they may be kept indoors at all times. They are allowed their natural behaviors such as nesting and perching, and they are protected against certain procedures considered cruel, such as forced molting.
  • Animal Welfare Approved: This is the highest animal welfare standard. The birds are cage-free with continuous outdoor access. Requirements are followed for number of hens in the space, perches and nesting boxes.
  • Cage-Free: Most hens live in flocks (sometimes of many thousands of hens), and they usually never go outside. Most do, however, have perching and dust-bathing areas. "Cage-free" does not necessarily mean "organic," as there are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed.
  • Free-Roaming or Free-Range: Meanings are identical. Hens are cage-free, but there is no auditing.
  • United Egg Producers Certified: Caged hens have 67 square inches of cage space per bird (smaller than a sheet of paper). While hens cannot perform many natural behaviors, including spreading their wings, they are protected against certain procedures considered cruel, such as forced molting
"Buying organic eggs is one of those things I call ‘taking your health to the next level,'" adds Zonya Foco, R.D., author, TV host and national speaker. "If you have the resources to comfortably pay the extra for these eggs, there may indeed be a health benefit -- especially if you choose organic plus high omega fed. These contain more omega-3 fats, which are indeed beneficial."
Improving health. Enhancing lives.

All Things Egg

Now that you know how to shop for eggs, it's time to find new ways to cook them. Fortunately, the American Egg Board web site offers hundreds of egg recipes, and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Export Council has a world map you can explore for regional egg recipes. Find a favorite!