What makes an organic egg organic?
To be considered organic, the egg must come from a certified organic layer. This hen has been raised from day 1 of age on certified organic feed and housed to organic standards. This layer is housed in a certified organic and inspected facility. This house is cage-free and the birds have access to outside range areas. These eggs are collected, transported and processed to organic standards. These eggs may then be certified as being organic.
In order to be certified organic, organic egg producers must meet strict government standards (see below). They must also comply with all federal, state, and international food safety requirements.
Rigorous announced and unannounced inspections by third-party inspectors are conducted at least once every year to ensure that these standards are met. Additionally, organic producers are required to develop and adhere to an organic systems plan, enabling inspectors and consumers alike to trace organic products from the farm to your family.
Livestock health care practice standard (Section 205.238)
Producers must establish and maintain preventive livestock health care practices
• This includes providing appropriate housing, pasture conditions, and sanitation practices to minimize the occurrence and spread of diseases and parasites.
• Conditions must be provided allowing exercise, freedom of movement, and reduction of stress appropriate to the species.
• Performance of physical alterations as needed to promote the animal’s welfare and in a manner that minimizes pain and stress.
Livestock living conditions (Section 205.239)
The producer of an organic livestock operation must establish and maintain livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including:
• Access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air and direct sunlight suitable to the species, its stage of production, the climate and the environment.
• Access to pasture.
• Appropriate clean, dry bedding.
Prohibited by the U.S. national organic standards
• Synthetic growth hormones
• Plastic pellets for roughage in feed
• Urea and animal waste in feed for organic livestock.
• Use of genetic engineering
• Use of toxic and persistent pesticides
• Use of sewage sludge on fields.
Click here to discover the answers to frequently asked questions about organic eggs.
Click here to learn more about organic livestock production practices.