Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Kroger Alleging Deceptive “Humane” Claims on Chicken

For immediate release:  February 12, 2014
Media Contacts: Lisa Winebarger: 310-217-1519 (o), 310-853-0317 (c), lwinebarger@cok.net

October 2014 Update: This case has been settled amicably. Read more here.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. –  Yesterday, a consumer of Simple Truth chicken— The Kroger Co.’s store brand—filed a class-action lawsuit in the Superior Court of California in the County of Los Angeles alleging that the grocery giant is falsely and deceptively touting its Simple Truth chicken as having been sourced from chickens raised “in a humane environment,” despite the fact that the birds are treated no differently than other mass-produced chickens confined on factory farms and killed in industrial slaughter plants.

Kroger is one of the world’s largest retailers, operating over 2,600 supermarket stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under various local banner names, including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs, and Smith’s. In September 2012, Kroger launched its private-label Simple Truth brand with the aim of targeting increasingly animal welfare-conscious consumers. Kroger has acknowledged the immense success of its Simple Truth brand, which helped boost the company’s growth during the 2012 fiscal year.

Despite Kroger’s “humane” claim, the lawsuit alleges that Simple Truth chicken products can be traced to a Perdue Farms processing facility in Kentucky, which purportedly engages in standard chicken industry practices including selective breeding of fast-growth birds who continuously suffer from cardiovascular problems, painful bone deformities, and lameness throughout their short lives. According to the suit, Simple Truth chickens are also subject to inhumane practices at slaughter, including upside-down shackling by their legs, submersion into vats of electrified water, and in some cases, ineffective mechanical slaughtering methods that may result in drowning and scalding while fully conscious.

The complaint further alleges that Kroger’s “cage free” label misleadingly suggests that Simple Truth chickens are raised differently, and more humanely than, chickens raised for competitor products even though chickens raised for their meat (“broilers”) are virtually never housed in cages.

The plaintiff and putative class in this case are represented by leading class-action law firms Tycko & Zavareei LLP and Michael McShane of Audet & Partners, LLP, as well as by attorneys at Compassion Over Killing (COK), a national animal protection organization.

Copies of the lawsuit are available by request.  Interested consumers can contact plaintiff’s counsel at 310-217-1519 or lwinebarger@cok.net.

For more information, visit: www.COK.net/simpletruth