Kroger removes ‘humanely raised’ claim on chicken labels to settle case

Kroger removes ‘humanely raised’ claim on chicken labels to settle case

By Tom Johnston on 10/14/2014

Kroger Co. has agreed to remove its “raised in a humane environment” claim on store-brand chicken to settle a federal lawsuit claiming the label deceived consumers because the animals were raised under conventional industry production practices.

Lawyers for the nation’s largest supermarket chain and a California consumer seeking class-action status on Monday filed statements in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to dismiss the case with prejudice, court documents show. Kroger and Compassion Over Killing, an animal activist group whose lawyers were involved in the case, emailed a statement to Meatingplace confirming the case has been settled.

“We are pleased to see the claim removed from Simple Truth packaging, which we view to be inaccurate,” Cheryl Leahy, general counsel for Compassion Over Killing, said in the statement. “We will continue to work to protect both animals and consumers.”

The lawsuit had stated: “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.’ In fact, Simple Truth chickens are treated no differently than other mass-produced chickens on the market.”

Kroger and its supplier, Perdue, “vigorously” opposed plaintiff’s claims.

“We stand by our assertion that the ‘raised in a humane environment’ claim on our Simple Truth chicken label is accurate,” Gil Phipps, Kroger’s vice president of corporate brands, said in the statement. “We are pleased to put this lawsuit behind us and will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure the humane treatment and welfare of animals. Customers should know that all of our Simple Truth chicken products have always been and will remain free from antibiotics and added hormones.”

All parties have agreed that the label conversion will be completed within the next 12 months.

Perdue this week also settled federal lawsuits by agreeing to remove humanely raised claims on its Harvestland chicken labels.