Costco members know that one of the warehouse’s biggest perks is the beloved roast chickens. Big, delicious and affordable at just $4.99 – the company sells the birds at a loss to keep members coming back, Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said in 2015.
Although the company kept the item cheap, some speculated that other costs might have been incurred. Recently, the Nebraska Examiner reported a lawsuit alleging Costco violated livestock welfare laws regarding improper care by raising chickens that were too big, too fast.
The lawsuit was filed on June 13 and represents two Costco shareholders and cites a hidden camera investigation by a Los Angeles-based animal rights group, mercy for animals. The images were obtained in 2021 and claim to show the hidden cost of Costco’s “cheap chicken”. He says the warehouse violates Nebraska and Iowa livestock welfare laws by raising chickens unnaturally. The lawsuit says the birds at the facility grow so large they can’t even stand to reach food or water, eventually leading to death from dehydration or starvation. Some birds would even be so heavy that they would fall and could not get up again.
The costume also claims that it’s no accident what happens to these chickens. He says Costco knows he’s raising his chickens too big. He directly appoints leaders who he believes know about the abuses and continue to ignore them. Compared to Walmart’s 2-pound rotisserie, Costco’s rotisserie weighs a pound moreweighing an average of three whole pounds.
In response to the 2021 video, Costco issued a statement at the time to several sources of information claiming that it is “committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare”.
Costco is selling more 106 million of his roast chickens each year in store. The Nebraska plant alone processes about 2 million chickens a week and plans to eventually supply nearly half of the chain’s total chickens, according to Business Insider.
The chain of warehouses has has had its fair share of criticism over its treatment of chickens at his farms, which suggested he raise the set price to $4.99 and use the profits to maintain better installation standards. In an opinion piece published in February 2021 for the New York Timescolumnist Nicholas Kristof wrote—
“The journal Poultry Science once calculated that if humans grew at the same rate as these chickens, a 2-month-old baby would weigh 660 pounds. Chickens have huge breasts, because that’s the meat consumers want, so the legs of the birds sometimes crumble or crumble.”
Last February, the Nebraska warehouse faced an outbreak of bird flu infecting many of its flocks, leading to mass bird cullings.. More than 500,000 chickens in facilities have been killed to try to stop the spread. Many have blamed the method of shutting off the ventilation to kill these birds as being inhumanwhich raises the temperature in the chicken coop to lethal levels – however, it is not clear if Costco had to resort to these depopulation protocols, which is generally used in an emergency.
Amber Lake is a staff writer at Eat This, Not That! and holds a journalism degree from UNF in Jacksonville, Florida. Read more