Understanding “Humane” Egg Labels

Over 90% of US chicken farmers raise their chickens in tight cages, called “Battery Cages” with no room to move all their life.  In response to these cruelties people are choosing their eggs based on the “humane” labels on the cartoon.

Below is a breakdown from the Humane Society on what these labels mean:

Cage-Free – Chickens are free from the battery cages, but it doesn’t mean any chickens will see the outside or live in humane conditions.  Over a 100 food industry businesses in the last few years, from McDonald’s to Sodexo, have created plans to become 100% cage free (at least by 2025 for some of the businesses).  Check out the list of businesses and their cage free commitments.  But as new investigations emerge about inhumane conditions at some of the “cage free” farms, animal rights activist are pushing for better conditions.

Free Range/Free Roaming – Get to spend time during the day outside but the duration and/or quality of that time varies.  There’s no requirement for length of time or amount of space a farmer has to provide to qualify for a free range certification.  In fact all the farmer has to do is allow for access to outdoors.  Simply opening a coop door for a small amount time, even if the chickens don’t choose or aren’t physically able to go outside, will still give the farmer a free range certificate.  Read more about free range here.

Pasture-Raised – Chickens spend the majority of their days outdoors but get to sleep inside, cage-free, at night for protection.  *Best option to reduce cruelty.

Certified Organic – the only certification that regulates the feed as organic, vegetarian and free of pesticides and antibiotics to meet the USDA’s National Organic Program standards.  Chickens are suppose to be provided time outdoors but, like free range, there’s no requirements for duration or quality of the time outdoor.


Humane Certifications

Although some environments are more likely to be more humane than others all of them are capable of providing a humane environment.  To know for sure if a farm is humane look for a humane certification label:

Animal Welfare Approved ” is the highest standard

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These logos also include some humane standards

foodalliancecertified  certifiedusdaorganic  cngcolorlogo

For more information about each label and there standards click on the below link

Humane Certification Labels

Cruelty Still Present Regardless of Label

Regardless of these labels the majority of chicken farms still practice animal cruelty from cutting off their beaks to starvation to force molting and increase their laying cycles.  The majority of commercial farms receive their baby chicks from hatcheries that practice chick culling or the process of killing male chicks shortly after birth, often by grinding them alive, because they don’t grow as fast and can’t lay eggs.  And one of the labels addresses animals’ living conditions or their welfare during transport or slaughter.

100% Cruelty Free Egg Options