Costco’s $4.99 roast chicken: Lawsuit claims retailer violates animal welfare laws

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$4.99 roast chicken — it’s as much a Costco shopping staple as the $1.50 hot dog and mega packs of paper towels.

But now a new lawsuit alleges the warehouse store violates animal welfare laws in the name of keeping prices low.

Legal impact for chickens, the group behind the lawsuit, claimed that “Costco’s directors and officers breached their fiduciary duty by knowingly causing Costco to neglect and abandon chickens in violation of state law.” The lawsuit specifically mentions processing plants in Nebraska and Iowa.

Costco is selling its popular Kirkland Signature Roast Chicken for $4.99 each. Chickens have been sold at this price for decades. According to CNN, Costco sold 106 million cooked poultry last year.

The lawsuit also claims the wholesale retailer raised its chickens so quickly that “many of them cannot support their own weight.”

“Costco then sends millions of these fast-growing birds to dirty, overcrowded factory farms run by inexperienced contract growers whom Costco has recruited and trained. There, disabled birds are slowly dying of hunger, thirst, injuries and disease,” says the lawsuit.

The suit follows a 2021 New York Times article and a secret investigation by the animal welfare group mercy for animals as proof that the mistreatment of chickens has become common knowledge.

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