To say all these labels for the same topic is confusing, is an understatement.
On October 2, 2013, I posted a GoingTrueGreen blog for Food Labels Decoded that was titled Cage Free. Free Range eggs and chickens are similar to Free Run or Cage Free, except that with Free Range the hens are also given outdoor access. With Cage Free, the hens are not in cages, however, they are all kept inside the building or hen house.
Free Range has the added benefit of allowing hens to forage on outdoor grass, some bugs, and take a dust bath. How long and how often the hens get to go outside is NOT presented by this Free Range label. The label states that all animals for producing poultry and eggs are not to be confined. The rule continues by stating that the birds must have access to the outdoors for 5 minutes per day. Wow, 5 minutes, still doesn't sound like a stress free farm for hens. Yet, there is more...
There isn't any proof the birds actually went outside at all. This label also doesn't state if they are treated well or are antibiotic-free. The Bottom-Line, many of these birds can live their lives inside and still have a label saying Free Range because they weren't in cages. One last item, only USDA regulated poultry gets this label.
As I continue to add to my Food Labels Decoded series, please note that I am doing the labels in alphabetic order and that I am only up to the letter "F" as of now. Getting all the facts on the various labels being used is time consuming and sorting out the misleading information is not easy. I just hope that the information I post, can help us live a more sustainable life and allow us to make healthier decisions.
International Sustainability and Energy Consultant
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