Major supermarket chains such as Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys, and Wal-Mart saying they plan to offer only cage-free eggs by the end of 2025.
Today, about 90% of Canada’s egg-laying hens live in battery cages having their beaks and wings forcibly cut to minimize the damage they cause each other when crowded together.
What is the difference between conventional eggs and cage-free eggs?
None, actually. If we put aside environmental issues, hens’ better life, and flavour too (because it’s subjective and variable), and consider only two main aspects: better nutrition and less harm (in the form of fewer contaminants and pathogens) – what we see?
- The nutritional composition of conventional eggs and cage-free eggs appears to be similar.
- Omega-3 content: Omega-3 levels of either cage-free or regular eggs are affected by the hens’ diet: hens fed an omega-3 enriched diet lay eggs that are much higher in Omega-3. (Eggs rich in Omega-3 are generally labeled)
- Cholesterol content: There is no evidence that the cholesterol content in cage-free eggs is lower than in regular eggs.
- Contamination with Salmonella and other food-poisoning micro-organisms is not consistently different.
- Chemical residues: Little or no contamination of regular eggs with chemical residues has been reported because all commercial poultry – free-range, barn or caged – are fed diets free of antibiotics.
Don’t mix “Cage-free” and “Organic” eggs
“Cage-free” doesn’t mean that hens can roam free on grassy yards: they are kept indoors with artificial lighting on a concrete floor. “Cage free” also doesn’t mean that the hens have access to the outdoors. Even “free-range” chicken only have some exposure to the outdoors in a portion of their life. (By the way, in the chicken industry, the label “free-range” largely applies to chickens that are raised for meat.)
The main issue of “cage-free eggs” is about animal rights for better life because cages pose cruel conditions, to say the least.