Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and their egg supplier are currently facing a federal lawsuit for misleading consumers by selling organic eggs with packaging that claimed the birds had access to the outdoors. The lawsuit alleges that Cal-Maine Foods Inc., the megastores’ supplier and also the largest egg producer in the country, defined outdoor access as an enclosed structure with screens allowing outdoor air. Wal-Mart has not reviewed the allegations, but according to spokesman Randy Hargrove, “We hold our suppliers to high standards and are committed to providing our customers the quality products they expect.”
Animal Welfare Standards and Consumer Demands
It’s difficult to determine if this lawsuit will go anywhere, especially in light of the USDA’s recent rejection of more humane animal welfare standards. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices, intended to allow natural behaviors and reduce stress, was permanently shuttered half a year before it could go into effect. Wal-Mart and Cal-Maine Foods Inc could argue that it has met organic standards as they currently are in an attempt to justify the higher price. The companies would likely win
Where is the consumer in all of this? Demands for verifiably organic, humane, and high-quality products are skyrocketing, making organic foods the largest growing food market. A business like Wal-mart would be crazy not to take advantage of that, but millennials value integrity and the allegations in this lawsuit make it clear that could be an issue for the retail giant. The lawsuit says “Consumers paying more for these eggs have been deceived…The theoretical ability to view the outdoors is not the same as having access to it.”
We Want to Know
As a consumer, how does this make you feel? Do you stop purchasing eggs from Wal-Mart? From Cal-Maine Foods Inc? Is that even possible? Cal-Maine Foods Inc, a company who markets its brands, Egg-Land’s Best, Land O’ Lakes, Farmhouse, and 4-Grain, to a quarter of the population through megastores Wal-Mart and Publix?
How do we eat healthy food in an ethical way within our current food system?
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- U.S. lawsuit says Wal-Mart deceived buyers of organic eggs – Reuters
- Years in the Making, Organic Animal Welfare Rules Killed by Trump’s USDA – Civil Eats
- Cal-Maine Foods pursuing more acquisitions – wattagnet.com