How to choose more humane eggs

Bruce Passmore
Vancouver Sun – Sound Off!
Publication Date:
April 6, 2007

This April consumers face a real Easter egg hunt if they’re looking for the most humanely produced eggs.

People who want their eggs to come from hens that aren’t raised in tightly-cramped battery cages face a confusing array of choices. Words like “farm-fresh,” “vegetarian feed” and “omega-3” cover cartons, along with pictures of hens pecking the ground – all meaningless in terms of animal welfare.

In fact, only eggs labelled “certified organic” are guaranteed to provide hens with the most space, time outdoors and opportunities for natural behaviour. Producers of these eggs are audited by certifying bodies.

Eggs labelled “free-range,” come from chickens that have some access to the outside (depending on the weather) and that may have other welfare advantages, such as access to nests and perches. “Free-run” eggs are from un-caged hens kept in large barns. Neither system is audited for welfare.

Tips for buying more humane eggs:

Ask your grocer for “certified organic” eggs. They’re the only eggs guaranteed to be free-range and they have the highest welfare standards.

If you can’t obtain certified organic eggs, look for cartons labelled “SPCA Certified” or “free-range” as they are cage-free and usually allow outdoor access.

If you can’t find certified organic, SPCA Certified or free-range, look for “free-run.” They’re from un-caged hens in large barns.

When you check carton labelling remember that terms like “farm-fresh,” “natural,” or “omega-3” have nothing to do with animal welfare. The same goes for pictures of happy hens scratching the earth in the sunshine.

For more information on eggs visit