A class action lawsuit filed in Florida by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) that alleges Perdue Farms is falsely marketing chicken products as "Humanely Raised" is without merit, Perdue Farms says. The animal welfare organization previously filed a similar class action lawsuit in New Jersey.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Florida consumers who purchased Perdue Farms' Havestland chicken, alleges that Perdue is deceptively marketing the chicken products as "humanely raised," but HSUS claims the chickens are subject to inhumane treatment.
"HSUS falsely asserts that there is no difference between Perdue's welfare program and industry standards. The Harvestland/Perdue Poultry Welfare Program exceeds the National Chicken Council guidelines in several areas, including the additional steps of monitoring air quality in the poultry house, video monitoring of live-bird handling areas at the processing plant and USDA audits of producer farms and our hatcheries," the company said in a statement.
"Contrary to the image HSUS attempts to portray, all of our chickens are raised under a strict USDA Process Verified Program that ensures adherence to our Poultry Welfare Program from hatchery to processing. This includes numerous, documented checks and audits at every step in the process. All of our chickens are raised cage-free on family farms. They live in temperature-controlled housing with fresh-air ventilation, where they are protected from disease, predators and the elements. They have constant access to food and water, room to move about and exhibit natural behaviors, and cycles of light and dark to ensure resting periods.
"Chickens are transported from the farm to the plant in coops specially designed to protect them from injury and weather extremes. Upon arrival at the plant, they are protected in covered sheds, and fans and misters ensure bird comfort during hot weather. Travel times and waiting times at the plant are limited by our Poultry Welfare Program and are carefully monitored and adjusted for temperature and weather conditions as part of the Humanely Raised Process Verified Program.
"As part of the USDA inspection process at each of our plants, USDA inspectors also observe areas of the plant where live birds are handled to ensure 'humane treatment' of all animals. Through the USDA Process Verified Program, we go the extra step of inviting the USDA to inspect our hatcheries and farms where our birds are raised, to provide assurance that we are following our Poultry Welfare Program."