3 Simple Rules for Healthy, Happy Eggs
When you head to the grocery store for organic eggs, you assume a certain level of quality in how your eggs were produced. While there are standards and requirements that companies follow in labeling their eggs, the standards lack regulation and don't truly reflect whether or not hens are treated humanely.
The USDA's latest proposed outdoor space requirements would give hens a mere 2 square feet of space in order to carry the USDA organic label. To put things into perspective, the average cubicle size in the U.S. is 75 square feet. The proposed requirements are the human equivalent of running laps in an elevator, essentially.
While an improved organic standard would be a step in the right direction, it makes no headway in terms of alleviating consumer confusion over carton labeling. Rather than providing animal welfare-conscious consumers with the confidence that they are purchasing humanely produced eggs, it proposes living conditions for hens that are neither humane nor safe. Consumers should be able to trust the packaging, labels and imagery that they find on their carton of eggs, but oftentimes these labels say little to nothing about the way the hens were treated.
To reinforce the integrity of the organic seal, hens should be given far more space than what has been outlined by the USDA. In order for hens to live happier, healthier lives, the happy egg co., the first U.S. free-range egg brand to be certified by the American Humane Association, abides by three simple rules:
- Give Them Space: The happy egg co. provides 21.8 square feet of space per hen, which is equivalent to roughly 20 shoe boxes high, long and wide - plenty of space for them to stretch their wings, dust bathe, forage and roam freely.
- Give Them Enrichment: Providing hens with "hen-richment" structures, including play kits and perches, encourages them to spend most of their day outside. This enrichment is meant to stimulate their natural instincts, which can only be exhibited outside of a cage or barn.
- Keep Consumers Safe: The FDA requires that egg producers test for salmonella once in a hen's lifespan, but testing for salmonella every 15 weeks helps ensure that only the highest quality eggs enter the food chain.
For more information about hen welfare and making humane purchasing decisions at the grocery store, visit thehappyeggco.com.
Photos courtesy of the happy egg co.
(Main image) Free-range hens on a happy egg co. farm.
(Secondary) An example of the USDA's proposed 2 square feet of space per hen (left) - the amount that would be necessary to carry the organic label - compared to the happy egg co.'s 21.8 square feet of space.