Costco mistreats chickens bought at rotisserie, lawsuit alleges


In this May 8, 2008, file picture, a butcher spreads out rotisserie-roasted rooster at Costco in Mountain View, Calif. In 2022, two Costco shareholders sued the corporate, saying it “mistreats and neglects” the chickens it breeds.


Two Costco shareholders sued the corporate, saying that it mistreats and neglects the chickens used for its low-priced rotisserie chickens.

The grievance, filed by the group Legal Impact for Chickens on behalf of shareholders Krystil Smith and Tyler Lobdell, accuses Costco of violating animal welfare legal guidelines so as to “supply itself with a large quantity of cheap chicken meat.”

Costco didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark from McClatchy News.

Costco sells its cooked rotisserie chickens for $4.99 every, a “widely-known and prominent feature” of its enterprise mannequin to lure prospects into shops, in keeping with the lawsuit. In order to take care of a relentless provide of chickens and never increase costs, the corporate “knowingly propagates chickens that are bred to grow so fast that many of them cannot stand under their own weight,” the grievance says.

The lawsuit accuses Costco of then sending these chickens “to dirty, crowded factory farms, run by inexperienced contract growers who Costco recruited and trained.”

“There, disabled birds slowly die from hunger, thirst, injury, and illness,” the grievance stated, including that firm administrators and officers “cause and are aware of these illegal practices.”

The lawsuit additionally says that the corporate’s practices violate animal welfare legal guidelines in Iowa and Nebraska, two states the place Costco raises its chickens. By extension, the shareholders bringing to grievance accuse the corporate of violating its dedication to shareholders to behave lawfully, thus breaching its fiduciary duties.

The firm openeda $450 million rooster processing facility in Nebraska in 2019 to maintain prices low, Insider reported. The plant processes about 2 million chickens per week, supplying about half its complete rotisserie chickens and a 3rd of its uncooked rooster merchandise, Insider and Civil Eats reported .

Costco beforehand responded to a 2021 report by the group Mercy for Animals by telling Insider that the corporate’s dedicated to sustaining “the highest standards of animal welfare, humane processes, and ethical conduct throughout the supply chain.”

After Mercy for Animals launched their report, a fan web page devoted to Costco’s rotisserie rooster pivoted to advocating for chickens’ welfare. The web page, “Costco Rotisserie Chicken,” has over 18,000 followers on Facebook.

“Once lauded as an innovative warehouse club, Costco today represents a grim existence for animals who are warehoused in inescapable misery,” Legal Impact for Chickens president Alene Anello stated in a press release. “Costco’s executives must agree to follow both the law and general decency in order for Costco to resume being seen as an industry leader.”

Costco sells hundreds of thousands of rotisserie chickens yearly, topping 106 million in 2021, Eat This Not That reported. The value of the rooster has remained at $4.99 since 2009, in keeping with the outlet.

Vandana Ravikumar is a McClatchy Real-Time reporter. She grew up in northern Nevada and studied journalism and political science at Arizona State University. Previously, she reported for USA Today, The Dallas Morning News, and Arizona PBS.

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