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U.S. Egg Buying Guide

There are dozens of ways to describe and label different types of eggs. Use this guide to decipher egg carton labels at your grocery store.

Download a high resolution pdf version of the egg-buying guide

Standard Eggs
Hens are raised in cages without access to nest boxes, perches or litter. Conditions are crowded and do not allow for the opportunity to perform natural behavior
The USDA requires egg products labeled as "natural" to be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients, but does not apply to farm practices.
Hens are fed a diet that is supplemented with a source of omega-3 fatty acids, often flax seed. Omega-3 eggs are from caged hens unless specified on the label as coming from a cage-free system.
Also called “free run” or “barn eggs,” hens can move freely within a barn, but not outdoors, and standard practice is to provide access to nest boxes. Hens may be provided with perches and litter.
Free Range
Free-range hens are allowed to move freely and standard practice is to provide access to nest boxes. Hens may also be provided with perches and litter, and weather permitting, outdoor access.
Hens receive access to the outdoors, weather permitting, and cages are prohibited. Producers provide 100 percent organic feed, and the use of antibiotics is prohibited. Nest boxes are typically provided. The USDA regulates the organic certifying organizations.