When my local farmers market is open, I can buy eggs from farmers that I know and trust. But from December through May, I need to buy my eggs at the grocery store. It’s always a little frustrating because the labeling on eggs can be misleading.

Last week, I needed to buy some eggs mid-week, and the farmers market is only open on Saturday. I bought them at the store. I bought organic eggs that had a certification on them that I had never noticed before – “Certified Humane Raised and Handled.”

There is a short explanation about what that means next to the certification.

Meets Humane Farm Animal Care Standards, which include nutritious diet without antibiotics or hormones, animal raised with shelter, resting areas, sufficient space and the ability to engage in natural behaviors.
While not a perfect solution, the combination of the USDA Organic certification and this Certified Humane Raised and Handled certification, gives me a little piece of mind when buying eggs at the grocery store.

I say it’s not a perfect solution because according to The Humane Society’s Brief Guide to Egg Carton Labels* the eggs with this certification may come from birds that are allowed to stay indoors at all times and may have been subjected to beak cutting.            

But without some other certification like the Certified Humane Raised and Handled one, buying organic alone doesn’t guarantee that the chickens that laid the eggs were treated well. They are allowed to go through forced molting by starvation, meaning that they can be starved anywhere from five days to two weeks to keep egg production steady.

Short of raising chickens in my own backyard, I’ll never be able to truly know how the chickens that my eggs come from are treated. I need to educate myself on the different labeling and make the best decision I can based on what I learn.

Humane Farm Animal Care provides the following video so you can learn more about their program. They certify more than just eggs.

Humane Farm Animal Care from Nathan Friedkin on Vimeo.

* Please take a minute and check out this guide to egg carton labels. It may leave your head spinning with new information, but it’s information that will help you make better decisions. 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Certified Humane Raised & Handled egg labeling
Confused about egg carton labeling? You're not alone.