Alleging that Perdue Farms Inc. misleads consumers by labeling its chicken products as “Humanely Raised,” a member of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has reportedly filed a putative class action against the company in a New Jersey court. The suit apparently claims that the company’s chickens are processed under National Chicken Council guidelines that allow “numerous inhumane practices, including painful handling and shackling of live birds . . . and egregiously inhumane slaughter practices.” The plaintiff seeks to represent all consumers who buy the company’s chicken products relying on the “alleged deceptive and misleading humane claim.” Compensatory damages and injunction relief are also sought.

According to an HSUS spokesperson, “Rather than implementing humane reforms, Perdue has simply slapped ‘humanely raised’ stickers on its factory farmed products, hoping consumers won’t know the difference.” Perdue reportedly responded to the complaint by stating, “The Humane Society of the United States is trying to define humane treatment of poultry by their own narrow, arbitrary standards. Our chickens are raised cage-free on family farms in temperature-controlled housing with a continuous flow of fresh air, and they remain free to move about with constant access to food and water.” See HSUS Press Release and Meatingplace.com, November 29, 2010; Product Liability Law 360, December 1, 2010.