You go to your local supermarket and begin your grocery shopping. Near the end of your shopping experience you make it to the refrigerated area where you want to pick up a carton of eggs. As you look down into the egg case, you realize there are so many choices!! How do you choose?
It is important to be educated when purchasing eggs from your local grocery store. With all of the choices out there, you want to choose the eggs that best fit your lifestyle. The first blog in this series will focus on the most prevalent animal welfare labels you see in on egg cartons- UEP Certified-Modern Cage and UEP Certified- Cage-free and how these labels attribute to food safety.
UEP Certified Modern Cage eggs are produced on farms that voluntarily follow scientific animal welfare guidelines to improve the care and handling of hens. The guidelines were developed by an independent committee of some of the nation’s leading animal welfare researchers and veterinarians. The UEP Certified program ensures the modern cage housing systems provides increased space per hen, good air quality, and separates the eggs from waste. This separation from waste ensures that eggs are not exposed to bacteria like Salmonella Enteritidis. Every egg carton encompassing this label means the farm it originated from has been audited by either United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Validus, two third-party auditing firms, to ensure the guidelines are being met.
UEP Certified Cage-free eggs are from farms that voluntarily follow science-based guidelines for proper hen care in cage-free systems. Like the UEP Certified Modern Cage program, Cage-free certified farms are audited by either USDA or Validus to ensure compliance with the guidelines. The UEP Certified Cage-free program ensures the cage-free housing system provides usable floor space per hen, good air quality, nesting space and perches. Monitoring is conducted to remove eggs laid from the cage-free hen houses immediately. One food safety issue is that if the monitoring is not conducted enough, eggs could be laid in waste and exposed to bacteria. When you see an egg carton with this label this means the hens typically live on the floor of a poultry house.
Next time you are looking into the egg case, remember to check for the check as the UEP Certified logo on your egg carton ensures that those eggs were produced on a farm committed to implementing scientifically-based animal welfare standards to produce the safest, highest quality eggs on the market!