SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — When shopping for groceries, you’ve probably seen egg carton labels featuring claims that the eggs are “cage-free” or “free-range.” But what do those labels really mean?

In this News 8 Consumer Alert, Marcella Lee takes a look at the labels and explains these claims.


Consumer Jennifer Shannon says she is willing to pay more for her eggs, because she doesn't like the idea of a chicken raised in a cage; but still, she'd like to know more about all of the choices at the store.

"There’s conventional, there's free-range, cage-free, pasture-raised... my question is, ‘what kind of eggs should I be eating?’ Simple as that,” said Shannon.

The eggs at Vital Farms in Honeygrove, Texas, are pasture-raised meaning the chickens there have space to roam without any cages.

But does treating chickens better, make for a better egg?

A study by Penn State, using 75 pastured hens found double the amount of vitamin E and omega-3s compared to eggs from caged birds

So, what do the egg carton labels mean exactly?

Cage-free means birds do not have access to the outside but do have the freedom to roam inside.

Free-range means all-day outside access. Some farmers offer two-square-feet of pasture per bird, but grass is not required by the USDA.

With pasture-raised, hens get all-day access to 108-square-feet of pasture - about the size of a 10’ x 10’ bedroom - for every bird.