Organic foods are increasingly popular, as people strive to choose the best products for themselves and the environment, but can you be sure that what you are buying really is organic?
A consumer lawsuit filed against Walmart claims that eggs have been sold labeled as ‘organic’ despite the conditions that the chickens living in being far from what you imagine when you picture the word ‘organic’.
NewFoodEconomy.org have reported on the terrible conditions of Cal-Maine chickens. They state that chickens which produced so-called ‘organic’ eggs were housed in “industrial, multi-story barns with tiny portholes and long ramps to access enclosed porches”.
The law regarding organic food is still quite confusing, and this has allowed companies like Cal-Maine to get away with such conditions. There is no steadfast rule on how much space organic hens should have, there are only general guidelines about housing conditions.
This has meant that egg producing companies whose aim is to maximize profits have been allowed to take advantage and bend the rules over what constitutes ‘organic’. The less space the chickens are allowed, the more money the company saves.
The Cal-Maine case is at the further end of the spectrum when it comes to poor chicken enclosures. The plaintiffs in the case noted how the hens did not even have access to outside in order to see sunlight, and were not able to eat insects and worms as other organic hens do.
The egg brand in question is Organic Marketside, and the case was brought by plaintiff Donnie Lee Gibson of California, who stated that these eggs cost a dollar more than regular eggs, and it was claimed on the packaging that the hens had ‘outdoor access’, which Gibson highlights, is a false claim.
Gibson’s attorney Elaine Byszewski said:
“Consumers are being tricked into paying more based on the ‘outdoor access’ claim on the egg carton,”
The plaintiffs in the case are suing Walmart in order to recoup the money they spent on mis-labeled products and to raise awareness in the hope of pressuring companies into being more truthful with their advertising.
Walmart are not the only company who have been in trouble over organic egg labeling, Eggland’s Best were found to be in violation of similar problems which had led people to speculate as to whether this is a bigger problem which effects the entire ‘organic’ industry.