Thursday, September 18, 2008

Deciphering Egg Carton Claims

I've realized that lately when I pick out a carton of a dozen eggs at the grocery store, I'm completely guessing about or even rationalizing the veracity of the claims made on the outside of the carton. "Cage free," "free range," "natural," "organic," "vegetarian," I've seen it all and don't know what to think.

I'm a skeptic and assume (rightly, I truly believe) that companies will put anything and everything on a label that they can get away with legally in order to convince you their product is better, safer, cleaner, and more 'natural.'

When it comes to organic labeling the USDA gives us some rules we can follow, but I have absolutely no idea about egg labeling.

Fortunately Catherine Price at the New York Times has done some research for us in her article, "Sorting Through the Claims of the Boastful Egg."
Some claims on egg cartons are regulated by the federal government, some by the states and some not at all. Some affect consumers’ health, some touch upon ethics and some are meaningless. All purport to describe how the hens were raised, or what they were fed, or what extra benefits their eggs might provide. So, what do these terms mean?
Even better, if you don't feel like reading the whole Times article, misterjalopy at BoingBoing has parsed the facts down to an egg buying cheat sheet he carries in his wallet.

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