Egg alternatives aren’t all they’re cracked up to be: Fetterman joins bipartisan group to regulate supermarket egg labels

23 January 2024- Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today introduced the Consistent Egg Labels Act to enforce better market terms for eggs and their alternatives. This bipartisan, bicameral bill would require the FDA to prohibit alternatives from using misleading terms in their branding. Senator Fetterman’s Pennsylvania colleague Congresswoman Susan Wild (D-PA) is the Democratic lead of the bipartisan House companion legislation.

“Pennsylvania’s egg producers work tirelessly to produce an inexpensive, accessible, and healthy source of protein for consumers,” said Senator Fetterman. “Our commonwealth is the fourth largest egg producing state in the country, making eggs a critical part of Pennsylvania’s agricultural and economic strength. The Consistent Egg Labels Act will protect farmers and consumers by prohibiting eggs alternatives from misrepresenting themselves.”

 “Our egg producers and farmers work hard to put high-quality, nutritious eggs on consumers’ tables. Labeling plant-based products as “eggs” undermines that hard work – it’s simply un-egg-cceptable,” said Senator Ernst. “I’m committed to maintaining the integrity of real eggs in our grocery stores on behalf of both consumers and farmers.”

“I’m excited to join Senators Fetterman and Ernst to introduce this bill, the Consistent Egg Labels Act of 2024, which will help poultry farmers right here in our community,” said Congresswoman Susan Wild. “Not only will this bill help protect one of the most important industries in Pennsylvania, but it will also provide consumers with clearer information about the food they purchase for their families.”

Many Americans rely on eggs and egg products as an affordable, healthy source of protein. Nutritional research from the Department of Agriculture finds that eggs are the lowest cost source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12, iron, and riboflavin. Plant-sourced protein found in egg product alternatives does not contain essential amino acids in levels as concentrated as in eggs. Egg product alternatives are relatively new on the market and have potential to mislead consumers if such products are not properly labeled. Consumers who need to purchase alternatives should be assured of labeling that is truthful and not misleading.

Currently, there are no requirements for egg alternatives to be clearly distinguished from eggs and egg products, despite not having the nutritional value of eggs. This bill would require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled egg alternatives within 180 days and require the FDA to report to Congress two years after enactment on actions taken with respect to food that is misbranded. The legislation would also nullify any guidance with respect to eggs or egg products that is not consistent with its standards.

The Consistent Egg Labels Act is cosponsored by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and endorsed by United Egg Producers and PA Farm Bureau.

The Consistent Egg Labels Act would:

  • Amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to define the market name for an egg or egg product to mean “only if the food is the reproductive output of avian poultry species, including an albumen or yolk that is, or was at any point, encased in a calcium-based shell.”
  • Prevent food to be introduced into interstate commerce using a market name for an egg or egg product if the food does not meet the aforementioned criterion set forth for eggs or egg products.
  • Require the FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled egg alternatives within 180 days of enactment.
  • Require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report to Congress two years after enactment on actions taken with respect to food that is misbranded.