Big Chicken

Perdue Chicken Will Remove ‘Humanely Raised’ From Its Label to Settle Two Lawsuits

These guys didn't want to play legal chicken either.
These guys didn’t want to play legal chicken either. Photo: Shutterstock

The Humane Society has agreed to drop two lawsuits accusing Perdue Farms of false advertising in exchange for some edits to the company’s Harvestland label. Packaging claims that the broiler chickens are “humanely raised,” but the two class-action suits — from 2010 and 2013 — called out the language as deceptive because it suggested conforming to a broader industry standard. “Rather than implementing humane reforms,” a Humane Society attorney argued in 2010, “Perdue has simply slapped ‘humanely raised’ stickers on its factory farmed products, hoping consumers won’t know the difference.” The company, which last month announced it’s quit injecting eggs with human antibiotics, now says it “has agreed to discontinue the labeling.”

The fight is actually bigger than Perdue’s animal husbandry. To qualify as “humane,” farms must meet standards for food, water, ventilation, and space per bird set forth in the National Chicken Council’s Animal Welfare Guidelines. The chicken producer argued that it had met the requirements and still does, so “its labels are not misleading in any way.” Animal-rights groups like the Humane Society contended that slaughterhouses that meet those standards still treat animals in ways “no reasonable consumer would consider ‘humane.’” Some industry sources are already griping that the settlement amounts to “extortion” and a “corporate cave in,” but Perdue apparently saw it for a years-long losing battle. The company’s general counsel gave a short statement saying they “are pleased this lawsuit has been resolved.”

Related: Perdue Says It’s Finally Stopped Injecting Chicken Eggs With Human Antibiotics
[HSUS News, McClatchy]

Perdue Chicken Will Remove ‘Humanely Raised’ From Its Label to