For a product to be a consumer’s first choice, it has to be visually appealing and labeled correctly. That applies to egg products as well. Providing accurate nutritional and other required information on egg carton labels brings value to the product, and it is a legal requirement for all packaged goods sold in stores. It is also a common practice for egg cartons sold in farmers markets.
In the US, egg labeling is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture. According to their regulations egg labels usually include:
- A statement of identity, or the product name = Eggs.
- USDA’s indication of eggs grade: Grade AA or A (voluntary)
- Size of eggs – Jumbo, Extra Large, Large, Medium or Small (not required for egg carton labels that don’t include a grade mark)
- The official USDA inspection mark
- Net quantity (6 eggs, half dozen eggs, 12 eggs, dozen eggs, etc.)
- Legal line – name and address of the manufacturer, packer, or distributor
- Safe handling instructions
- Nutrition facts
- Net weight in ounces and grams (voluntary)
- Sell by/best by/use by date (voluntary)
If the eggs haven’t been treated to destroy Salmonellae before distribution, the safe handling instructions need to state: “To prevent illness from bacteria: keep eggs refrigerated, cook eggs until yolks are firm, and cook foods containing eggs thoroughly.” This statement is not necessary for pasteurized eggs, but the carton needs to include the “Keep refrigerated” label.
Egg producers can add other voluntary claims and information to provide more transparency about their product for consumers, and make their product competitive on the market. Those claims include: farm fresh, kosher, brown eggs, white eggs, locally produced, organic, no antibiotics used, cage-free, free-range, omega-3 enriched, etc. These claims need to correspond to the true condition of the hens/eggs.
Consumers often wonder about what all these claims on eggs mean. The following chart explains the most commonly used claims and information on egg labels:
Grade AA – highest quality and freshest
Grade A – slightly lower quality than AA
Grade B – usually used only as ingredients in baked foods
Jumbo – 30 oz per dozen
Extra large – 27 oz per dozen 90 calories and 8 g of protein each
Large – 24 oz per dozen, 90 calories and 8 g of protein each
Medium – 21 oz per dozen, 60 calories and 6 g of protein each
Small – 18 oz per dozen
Peewee – 15 oz per dozen
Brown eggs are laid by brown hens, white eggs are laid by white hens. There is no significant nutritional difference between brown and white eggs.
This USDA seal proves that hens were allowed constant access to outdoors and were fed an organic diet.
This claim doesn’t really say anything about how the chicken was raised. It means that no flavoring or colors have been added to the egg.
Hens were not give any antibiotics during their laying period.
NO ADDED HORMONES:
This claim is superfluous, because the government prohibits the use of hormones in raising chickens.
The laying hens’ diet included flaxseed, fish oils, etc. to boost omega-3 content in their diets.
Laying hens were fed more vitamin-rich food to produce eggs with more vitamins.
Laid by hens that are not kept in cages and have unlimited access to food and water. They are free to roam the space they are housed in, but that space can be any closed building, room, etc. They don’t need to have access to outdoors.
Laid by hens kept in a closed space, but not in cages. They are allowed unlimited access to food and water. During laying period they are allowed unlimited access outdoors.
Hens are probably fed corn fortified with amino acids, but no farm inspection verifies this claim.
(source of information: https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/)
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