The Harvestland brand of Perdue chicken products can no longer be promoted as “humanely raised,” after two class action lawsuits demonstrated that the major chicken producer failed to meet humane standards.
The suits, filed by the Humane Society of the United States in 2010 and 2013, have been dropped as a result of Perdue agreeing to remove the claims from its packaging.
According to Food Safety News:
The requirements for label claims about animal welfare are not clear-cut, but, according to HSUS, the poultry industry’s so-called humane guidelines allow for painful handling and shackling of live birds; nearly continuous dim lighting that prevents normal resting behavior and is linked to painful problems associated with fast growth; the transport and holding of birds on cramped trucks for long periods of time in extreme temperatures with no food or water, and inhumane slaughter practices.
Leah Garces, the US Director of Compassion in World Farming called the move “a clear victory for consumers demanding for better treatment of farm animals and transparent labeling,” she said in a statement. “No matter how they spin it, there is nothing humane about the factory farmed conditions Perdue is raising their chickens in.
“While this case has been closed, it is concerning that Perdue will not admit any wrong doing and how they raise chickens is inhumane. No one would walk into one of Perdue’s dim, overcrowded, dusty, smelly chicken warehouses and think – yes, this is what I imagine when I think of humane. Until Perdue and others adopt meaningful standards for animals, the public remains at risk of being misled.”
Maintaining its position that Perdue chicken handlers treat the animals, the company rebuffed the HSUS lawsuits. “Perdue rejects the plaintiffs’ allegations and maintains that its labels are not misleading in any way,” Herb Frerichs, general counsel for Perdue Farms, said. “Nonetheless, it has agreed to discontinue the labeling claim at issue. Perdue is committed to treating animals with respect and to ensure their health and safety. We are pleased this lawsuit has been resolved.”
“We are pleased to see the claim removed from Harvestland’s packaging, which we view to be misleading,” said Peter Petersan, Director of Animal Protection Litigation for the HSUS. “We will continue to work to protect both animals and consumers.”
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
Related on Organic Authority