All Natural

What it is: This claim has not been precisely defined by the USDA, however, it means that the eggs are free of artificial ingredients or added colors and have only been minimally processed. Minimal processing means that the product was processed in a way that has not fundamentally changed the product. If a producer chooses to use this term, the label must include a statement explaining how the producer has defined the term. E.g., the label must say “no artificial ingredients” or “minimally processed.” Most, if not all, eggs in shells are not processed. 83

Required: No.

No Hormones Added

What it means: The USDA does not permit the use of hormones in the raising of poultry. Consequently, this claim cannot be used on a poultry label unless it is accompanied by language stating that “federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones” or some other qualifying language approved by the agency.84

Required: No.

No Antibiotics

What it means: This language may be used on a label if the producer can provide “sufficient documentation” to the USDA to show the chicken was raised without the use of antibiotics.85

Required: No.

Fed an All-Natural Vegetarian Diet

What it means: This term is not defined by the USDA. A producer may use this term on a label if the poultry feed does not include animal byproducts. No independent third party verifies this claim and the USDA does not require any verification before its inclusion on a label.

Required: No.

Grade A

What it means: The USDA provides a voluntary grading service that inspects eggs in the shell and assigns them a grade. Under the program, consumers can purchase products with official grading from the agency as a means of determining the product’s quality.86 The grades depend on the egg’s interior and exterior qualities. A Grade A classification is the second highest.87

Required: No. The grading process is performed by the USDA at a cost to the producer.

Omega 3

What it means: This claim means the chickens have been fed a diet that includes certain ingredients (e.g., flax seed, fish oil, or algae) to increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acids found in the eggs.

Required: No.

Specific Requirements: To use this claim, the producer or manufacturer must include the actual amount of the dietary ingredient per serving.88

25% Less Saturated Fat

What it means:This claim means the eggs have less saturated fat than the normal product standard for eggs of the same size.89

Required: No.

Specific Requirements: A manufacturer or producer may include this claim on a product so long as the label states the food to which the comparison or reference is being made and the percentage or fraction by which the nutrient differs.90

Excellent Source of Vitamin E

What it means: This claim means the eggs contain 20% or more of the daily reference value for vitamin E.

Required: No.

Specific Requirements: A manufacturer or producer may include this claim or suggest the product is “high in” or “rich in” a particular nutrient if it contains 20% or more of the recommended daily intake or daily reference value for the specific nutrient.91

Extra Vitamins and Minerals

What it means: This claim means the eggs contain 10% more of the daily reference values for vitamins and minerals.

Required: No.

Specific requirements: A manufacturer or producer may include a relative claim using the words “more,” “fortified,” “enriched,” “added,” “extra,” and “plus” on the label to describe levels of protein, vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber or potassium so long as the food contains 10% more of the recommended daily intake or daily reference value for the ingredient claimed.92

Organic

What it means: This term means that a product has been produced according to the standards in the Organics Foods Production Act (OFPA).93 Generally, a producer will not be able to use this term unless they or their supplier are certified as organic by the USDA under the National Organics Program.94 Basically, organic production limits the use of artificial chemicals, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and other inputs, as well as genetic engineering. For more information about the specific organic standards for meat, please see our additional resources page.

Required: No.

Free Roaming

What it means: This term has only been defined by the USDA for poultry products. When used by a producer for another type of meat, the term usually means something similar to the definition used for poultry, but does not need to conform to that standard.

Required: No.

Cage Free95

What it means: This term is not defined by the USDA. However, if a USDA-inspected producer wants to use the term “cage free” on its packaging, the agency must first verify the claim. The USDA will allow the use of the term if the poultry flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water.

Required: No.

Fed Non-GMO Vegetarian Diet

What it means: A producer may use this term on a label if the poultry feed does not contain genetically engineered ingredients96 and does not include animal byproducts. No independent third party verifies this claim prior to its inclusion on a label.

Required: No.

Certified Humane

What it means: This claim means the hens may kept indoors at all times, but cannot be in cages. In addition, they must be able to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but this standard allows for the cutting of the birds’ beaks.

Required: No.

Specific requirements: Compliance is not verified by either the USDA or FDA, but rather is verified through third-party auditing as a program of Humane Farm Animal Care.