Understanding Egg Labels

When it comes to ensuring better lives for laying hens, don’t be duped by meaningless labels. Look for ASPCA recommended labels Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane, and Global Animal Partnership (Step 2 or higher), and take our Shop With Your Heart pledge for updates. 

ASPCA Egg Guide

Animal Welfare Approved
Animal Welfare Approved
 

Certified Humane
Certified Humane

Global Animal Partnership
GAP 5-Step Program

American Humane Certified
American Humane Certified

USDA Organic
USDA Organic*


Cage-Free

Free Range
Free Range


No Antibiotics Ever


Natural

Cages Prohibited

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Indoor Space Minimums

1.8 ft2 per bird

1.5 ft2 per bird

1.5 ft2 per bird

Less than 1 ft2  in cages

No

No

No

No

No

Perches Required

Yes

Yes

Yes

Inadequate

No

No

No

No

No

Nest Boxes Required

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

No

Dustbathing Opportunities

Yes

Yes

Yes

No in cages Yes in cage free

Inadequate

No

No

No

No

Outdoor Access Required

Yes, pasture access

Only if free-range**

Step 3 and higher

Only if free-range**

Yes, but undefined

No

Yes, but undefined

No

No

Prohibits Routine Antibiotic Use

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

No

On-Farm Audits

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

Detailed On-Farm Standards

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

100% Compliance with Standards

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

* Although the USDA Organic program released new, stronger animal welfare standards in January 2017, the USDA has twice delayed the rule’s implementation, seemingly with an eye toward scrapping the protections altogether. We are monitoring new developments and will keep you updated; be sure to join the Advocacy Brigade for alerts if you haven’t already.

** Certified Humane and American Humane Certified only require outdoor access under their free-range and/or pasture programs. Therefore, only eggs that have both the certification and a free-range and/or pasture label come from hens with outdoor access.