How to Understand Egg Labels

A trip to buy eggs is fraught not only with price and size considerations but also carries with it a personal decision about the way in which the eggs you decide to purchase were brought into being. If you care about animal welfare and the nutrition levels of eggs, egg labels will be of great concern to you. Here are some simple explanations to help you understand different egg labels.


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    Look for the different labels on eggs before you check the price. Here is a rundown on what you might see in a well-stocked supermarket:
    • Free-range eggs - these are eggs that come from chickens allowed to forage for food over a wide area of land, all day long. Usually such hens will be kept in a hen-house overnight to protect them from predators such as foxes. These eggs might also carry an "organic" label indicating that any feed given to the hens is organic in origin (see next).
    • Organic eggs - these are laid by hens restricted to feed that is free of chemical fertilisers, fungicides, herbicides, and pesticides.
    • Omega-3 eggs - these are eggs that come from hens that have feed containing around 10-20 percent flax seed meal. Such eggs have higher polyunsaturated fat and Omega-3 fatty acids levels than other eggs.
    • Barn-laid eggs - these eggs are produced from chickens that live in large barns. The chickens are usually divided up into large pens. The birds can stretch their wings, walk around, dust-bathe, perch and scratch around for food. They socialise as chickens should. Beak trimming may be carried out to prevent injuries. The food provided to the chickens may or may not be organic.
    • Cage-laid eggs - often the label does not announce this and it is wise to assume that without a label, this is your egg source. Hens kept in cages have trimmed beaks and very little room to move around. About 5 chickens can share a cage. They cannot flap their wings and they are unable to forage for food. The number of chickens per cage, the amount of space per cage etc. is regulated under the laws of different jurisdictions, so it pays to know the specifications under your local laws if you really want to be aware of the conditions such chickens are being kept under in your area.
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    Ask your supplier to provide the eggs that you are seeking if they are not available. A good quality store will provide a choice of egg labels so that you can make an informed decision on what to buy.
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    Try to prefer free-range eggs. The more people who buy these eggs, the more that this type of farming is supported and the better lives the chickens lead. It will also help to reduce the price if they are selling more free-range eggs.


  • Did you know that egg colour is not an indicator of egg quality or superiority. It is simply a case of which breed of hen laid the egg. In general, chicken breeds with white ear lobes lay white eggs, whereas chickens with red ear lobes lay brown eggs.

Things You'll Need

  • Egg labels

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Categories: Eggs and Dairy