Animal Rights Group and shareholders sue Costco over mistreatment of chickens
Shareholders of Mercy for Animals and Costco are suing the retailer over allegations of animal abuse.
Do you have a Costco subscription? If Costco is one of your go-to places to shop, this latest trial might interest you. Costco recently faced a lawsuit alleging mistreatment of its chickens which “are sold in stores as $4.99 rotisserie chickens.” Additionally, the plaintiffs allege that Costco is “breaching its fiduciary duty to shareholders by not acting lawfully.
The lawsuit was filed in Washington state and specifically accuses the company of “unlawful neglect and abandonment at its Nebraska chicken facility.” The plaintiffs say the routine abuse of chickens is “an integral part of the company’s poultry production strategy and business model”.
This latest lawsuit focuses on the company’s Nebraska chicken processing plant. It’s a $450 million facility that opened in 2019. It processes about two million chickens each week, though the company expects the plant will eventually “supply nearly half of the total chickens in the chain”.
But who filed the complaint? For starters, two Costco shareholders filed a lawsuit and accused the company of knowingly raising “chickens too big to stand on their feet.” To make matters worse, the plaintiffs claim that “disabled birds are slowly dying of starvation, thirst, injury, and disease,” and Costco executives simply ignore any reports of abuse.
Legal Impact for Chickens, an animal activist group, represents shareholders. Alene Anello is the president of the group and said:
“Previously hailed as an innovative warehouse club, Costco now represents a grim existence for Nebraska animals who are warehoused in inescapable misery.”
This is not the first time the company has come under fire for its treatment of animals. In 2021, Costco was the subject of a report published by Mercy for Animals, an animal rights group. The report described conditions at the company’s chicken processing plant, including “chickens struggling to walk under their own unnatural weight, naked burnt bodies from ammonia-laden litter, baby chicks ‘one day dead and heaps of rotting birds’.
At the time, the retailer said, “Costco is committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare, humane processes and ethical conduct throughout the supply chain.”
Rotisserie chickens are one of the staples that Costco is known for. In 2021 alone, the company sold 106 million rotisserie chickens and “has publicly pledged to keep their price at $4.99,” the same price since 2009 despite rising labor costs and production. Because of this, Costco knowingly takes a loss on the chickens, but uses them as a “strategy to lure customers into stores, where they will hopefully purchase other products at higher margins.”