By P.J. Huffstutter
CHICAGO Feb 12 Kroger Co, the biggest U.S.
supermarket operator, faces a lawsuit claiming it deceived
consumers by marketing a store brand as humanely raised chicken
products when the animals were raised under standard commercial
The complaint, filed late on Tuesday in Superior Court of
California in Los Angeles County, is seeking class-action status
against Kroger for allegedly misleading California
consumers with claims about the grocer's "Simple Truth"
premium-priced store brand of chicken.
Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey told Reuters on Wednesday that
the company has not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit.
However, Dailey said: "What we have on our Simple Truth chicken
label is information for our customers that we believe is
accurate, and we intend to vigorously defend our label."
The "Simple Truth" chicken products were packaged with
labeling that stated the animals were raised "in a humane
environment" and "cage free," according to the lawsuit.
However, standard industry practice for broiler chickens is
to house them inside large buildings, not cages, according to
The "Simple Truth" chicken products are produced by Perdue
Farms, which has followed industry practices such as
electrically stunning birds prior to slaughter, according to the
The case highlights the growing tension between food
retailers and U.S. consumers, who have become more vocal over
how food is produced and marketed.
"Looking to profit from growing consumer awareness of, and
concern with, the treatment of farm animals raised for meat
production, Kroger engaged in a deceptive and misleading
marketing scheme to promote its 'Simple Truth' store brand
chicken as having been sourced from chickens raised 'cage free
in a humane environment'," according to the complaint.
"In fact, Simple Truth chickens are treated no differently
than other mass-produced chickens on the market."
Consumer demand over food production practices has led to
numerous product changes in recent months by major food
companies. Subway plans to eliminate azodicarbonamide from its
dough and Kraft Foods Group Inc has said it will remove
the preservative sorbic acid from some individually wrapped
Chick-fil-A announced on Tuesday that, within five years, it
would stop selling poultry products from chicken raised with
The case is Anna Ortega v. The Kroger Co, Superior Court of
California, County of Los Angeles, No. BC536034.