CHICAGO (Reuters) — U.S. based Kroger Co. faces a lawsuit that claims it deceived consumers by marketing a store brand as humanely raised chicken products when the animals were raised under standard commercial farming.
The complaint, filed in Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, is seeking class-action status against the United States’ biggest supermarket operator for allegedly misleading California consumers with claims about the grocer’s Simple Truth premium-priced store brand of chicken.
The Simple Truth chicken products are packaged with labelling that said the animals were raised “in a humane environment” and “cage free,” according to the lawsuit.
However, standard industry practice for broiler chickens is to house them inside large buildings, not cages, according to industry experts.
“Looking to profit from growing consumer awareness of, and concern with, the treatment of farm animals raised for meat production, Kroger engaged in a deceptive and misleading marketing scheme to promote its Simple Truth store brand chicken as having been sourced from chickens raised ‘cage free in a humane environment,’ according to the complaint.
“In fact, Simple Truth chickens are treated no differently than other mass-produced chickens on the market.”
The Simple Truth chicken products are produced by Perdue Farms, which has followed industry practices such as electric stunning birds before slaughter, according to the lawsuit.
Kroger spokesperson Keith Dailey said the label information is accurate and the company intends to “vigour-ously defend our label.”