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October 24, 2013

Second Class Action Lawsuit Filed Challenging Perdue’s “Humane” Claims

Lawsuit claims “humanely raised” chicken labels are misleading consumers

The Humane Society of the United States announced the filing of a second class action lawsuit against the nation's fourth-largest poultry producer, Perdue Farms, Inc. over the company's alleged false advertising of factory farmed chicken products as “humane.”

The suit—filed on behalf of Florida consumers who purchased Perdue’s Harvestland chicken—alleges that Perdue is deceptively marketing the chicken products as “Humanely Raised” even though the chickens are subject to standard mass-produced industry practices. Those practices include inhumane handling and shackling of live birds; the transport of birds on cramped trucks for long periods of time in extreme temperatures with no food or water; and inhumane slaughter of birds.

“Animals in Perdue’s factory farms suffer many of the same conditions found in other industrial facilities,” said Jonathan Lovvorn, vice president and chief counsel of Animal Protection Litigation for The HSUS. “Perdue has apparently been exploiting the good intentions of its customers and selling them a factory-farmed product dressed up as ‘humane.’”

The complaint seeks a jury trial and compensation for the class members. It also seeks to end Perdue’s use of the “Humanely Raised” claim on Harvestland products.

Earlier this year a federal court in New Jersey rejected Perdue’s attempt to have a similar case dismissed, paving the way for that action to proceed. Both lawsuits allege that Perdue’s “humanely raised” labels mislead consumers.

Public records obtained from USDA—which Perdue fought to keep hidden from public view—show that the standards upon which Perdue bases its “Humanely Raised” claim are the voluntary so-called “Animal Welfare Guidelines” of the National Chicken Council—the trade group for the chicken industry. The suit alleges that those guidelines allow for mistreatment that no reasonable consumer would consider humane.

The plaintiffs are being represented in the case by Tycko & Zavareei LLP; Kopelowitz Ostrow Ferguson Weiselberg Keechl; and attorneys with The HSUS' Animal Protection Litigation Section.

Media Contact: Anna West: 301-258-1518; awest@humanesociety.org

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