What is the difference, if any, between eggs labeled cage free, free-range, natural, and certified organic?
Cage free simply refers to eggs laid by chickens that are not caged. This does not mean that the chickens have access to the outdoors and adequate space to live. Free-range chickens do have access to the outdoors, but their access may be restricted and they do not necessarily have access to pasture. Natural only means that they eggs were not treated with artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives and the eggs were minimally processed. Cage free, free range and natural eggs are not third party verified.
Certified organic eggs are from chickens that are fed organic feed that meets the chickens’ nutritional requirements and are raised without genetic modification, growth hormones, and antibiotics. The chickens must have access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise, fresh air, and sunlight appropriate for the species, the stage of production, the climate, and the environment. Organic eggs are not irradiated.
When I am looking for eggs, I always make sure they have the organic label. As long as they are labeled organic, I am happy to see other labels such as cage free.