Allegations of animal cruelty and false labeling have led the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to file complaints against Pilgrim's Pride Corp. chicken producer in seven states.
The animal rights organization first filed a complaint with the FTC in December over claims it says misrepresent the company's routine practices for raising and slaughtering animals. Last week it sent letters to seven state attorneys general in Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, Illinois, and Maryland, over claims that Pilgrim's Pride misleads customers by calling its chicken "humanely" treated.
According to HSUS, the birds are treated in ways that are anything but humane -- crowded into dark, stench-filled barns and being drowned while fully conscious in scalding water.
Consumer advocacy groups Food & Water Watch Inc. and Organic Consumers Association joined HSUS in calling for federal action against the chicken producer. The groups filed a lawsuit in February alleging Pilgrim's Pride was using deceptive marketing to boost sales while misrepresenting its practices.
According to Bloomberg, Pilgrim's Pride changed some language on its website about its practices, but it's a move that circumvents the issue, says HSUS.
“They falsely convey to the reasonable consumer that birds in Pilgrim’s care are treated humanely,” the group wrote.
Pilgrim's Pride maintains its position, stating that it is "committed" to the well-being of poultry in its care.
The chicken producer was called out last year for alleged price fixing along with other major chicken producers Tyson and Perdue. According to the lawsuits, the suppliers inflated chicken prices by artificially limiting broiler chicken supplies through closing plants, breaking unhatched eggs, and slaughtering young chickens before they reached market weight.
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