Robert Dominic Ventre II
Content EditorThis past Tuesday, a class-action lawsuit was brought against Kroger, the largest and overall most successful supermarket chain in the U.S. The case was filed in Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, asserting that Kroger has made false claims regarding the conditions their "humane, cage-free" chickens are raised under. Dubbed "Simple Truth" natural chicken, the product in question is marketed as an all-natural and, essentially, "cruelty-free" alternative for consumers who wish to maintain certain standards for animal livestock and how they are reared and cared for before slaughter. Speaking to Reuters, Keith Dailey, a spokesperson for Kroger, stated that the company had not yet found time to review the case levied against them. Yet he offered a vague response in regards to the apparently misleading product description presented by Simple Truth chicken, "What we have on our Simple Truth chicken label is information for our customers that we believe is accurate, and we intend to vigorously defend our label." Whereas Simple Truth touts their dedication to maintaining the highest standards for raising organic livestock, the company that produces the Simple Truth line, Perdue, has consistently failed to live up to industry expectations. As stated on Kroger's website for Simple Truth, "Producers must meet animal health and welfare standards, may not use antibiotics or growth hormones, must use 100% organic feed, and must provide animals with access to the outdoors." Perdue has faced controversy over the provided standard of living for their chickens in the past. While they had been technically adhering to animal welfare guidelines made standard by the National Chicken Council, these guidelines have been widely protested since their introduction in 2005. They are not strict, do not call for "humane" housing for animals and some are vague or loosely-worded, allowing so-called "adherents" to create the illusion of proper conditions for their animals while providing anything but. A tragic example of these lax guidelines is that the NCC requires the chickens be given at least four hours of darkness to allow them to sleep. However, the guidelines do not explicitly state that the four hours must be consecutive, and therefore, companies may break up the chickens' sleep cycle as they see fit, further distressing the poor birds. Perdue has continued to operate under minimal industry standards for years. The complaint levied against Kroger specifically notes their lack of true, "cage-free" poultry on store shelves, despite charging customers a premium for most Simple Truth products, including their chicken. As stated in the complaint, “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’,” Only time will tell how this lawsuit unfolds, and how far Kroger's false advertisements may truly go. If you would like to sign a petition demanding Kroger to live up to the standards they advertise, click here.
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