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What Does Your Egg Carton Label Mean?

Eggs may only come in one shape, but Sprouts has numerous options to choose from. How can you be sure you’re making an egg-ucated decision about the type, size and color? Animal welfare is of the utmost importance to Sprouts, and we hold both our suppliers and ourselves to high standards in regard to supply chain transparency. All of our egg suppliers are required to meet or exceed USDA Food Safety and Inspection Services Standards, and any cage-free supplier must also meet or exceed animal welfare standards such as Certified Humane certification criteria outlined by Humane Farm Animal Care, among other nationally recognized programs.


Pasture Raised

The HFAC’s Certified Humane® requirement is 1,000 birds per 2.5 acres (108 sq. ft. per bird) and the fields must be rotated. The hens must be outdoors year-round, and have mobile or fixed housing where they can go inside at night for protection from predators. They can also be housed indoors for up to two weeks due to inclement weather.

Free Range

This label is regulated by the USDA and indicates that the flock was provided shelter in a building, room or area with unlimited access to food, fresh water and continuous access to the outdoors during their production cycle. The outdoor area may or may not be fenced and/or covered with netting-like material.

Cage Free

This label indicates that the flock was able to freely roam in a building, room or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle.


The organic standards describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before products can be labeled USDA Organic. Overall, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity and using only approved substances. Organic eggs come from chickens treated with the same animal welfare standards as free-range and are given non-GMO feed.


This label indicates eggs were heated in a sanitary facility under the supervision of the USDA. In pasteurization, the liquid part of the egg is rapidly heated and held at a minimum required temperature for a specific amount of time. This destroys salmonella, but does not cook the eggs or affect color, flavor or nutritional value. By law, all liquid eggs must be pasteurized.

Omega-3 or DHA

These are from hens that have been fed a diet supplemented by a source of omega-3 fatty acids (typically from flax seed).

No Added Hormones

A similar claim includes “Raised without Hormones.” Federal regulations have never permitted hormones or steroids in poultry, pork or goat.

White or Brown

Color is not a reflection of quality and is not a factor in the U.S. Standards, Grades, and Weight Classes for Shell Eggs. Eggs are simply sorted for color and marketed as either “white” or “brown” eggs. It is common that brown eggs are bigger in size, which is usually due to the breed of chicken laying the eggs. For this reason, brown eggs cost more to produce and are typically found at a higher price point.