What is Cage-Free?

Exploring the egg aisle can be quite overwhelming with all of the different labels and language used on the cartons. Do you worry that the terms don’t always mean what they should? Cage-free sounds good, but is it actually good?

What does the cage-free label really mean?

“Cage-free” marked on a carton of eggs means that the hens laying those eggs are not kept in the tiny, cruel cages that are still the norm in the egg world. But that’s it. Producers are free to essentially enclose them in larger cages called “Aviary systems” and pack hundreds of thousands of them into a single barn with no outdoor access.

How People Envision Cage Free

People probably imagine hens happily wandering around a big red barn, pecking at corn kernels on a hay-covered floor — like the farm you see in movies.

The Reality

Cage free is not regulated standard, so it is largely left up to egg producers to define it unless they voluntarily submit to a certification standard such as Certified Humane. Since most cage free producers do not submit to such a standard, their hens generally do not have access to the outdoors. They cannot engage in many of their natural behaviors such as walking, nesting and spreading their wings. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted.

Why Does Pete and Gerry’s Choose to be Certified Humane Free Range?

Free Range is regulated by the USDA. But we go well beyond that standard on our farms by following the Certified Humane Free Range standard (and in many cases, we even go beyond that). This is the gold standard for care in the industry and ensures that your eggs are coming from chickens who enjoy a healthy, natural environment.