The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has filed a putative class action against a large-scale, California-based egg producer alleging that it falsely represents that the eggs are laid by hens “raised in wide open spaces in Sonoma Valley.” ALDF v. Judy’s Family Farm Organic Eggs, No. n/a (Cal. Super. Ct., filed October 1, 2012). According to ALDF, the hens are actually “crammed in covered sheds with no outdoor access.” The animal rights group alleges violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act.
The organization cites Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which discussed the defendant and its parent company, also named in the suit, as follows: “Who could begrudge a farmer named Judy $3.49 for a dozen organic eggs she presumably has to get up at dawn each morning to gather? Just how big and sophisticated an operation Petaluma Eggs really is I was never able to ascertain: The company was too concerned about biosecurity to let a visitor get past the office.” The Cornucopia Institute, representing the interests of family farmers, claims on its Website that Petaluma Farms, selling its eggs under several brand names including Judy’s Family Farm, has been granted a permanent exemption from its organic certifying agent from an outdoor access requirement on the basis of the threat of avian influenza.
Meanwhile, ALDF also recently filed a lawsuit in New York against the state agriculture department alleging that it has violated the state Agriculture and Markets Law “by allowing the ongoing sale of foie gras in the state of New York.” ALDF v. N.Y.S. Dep’t of Agric. & Mkts., No. n/a (N.Y. Sup. Ct., filed September 25, 2012). Several foie gras producers were also reportedly named as defendants. According to ALDF, the law requires the department to prohibit the distribution of foie gras, which it contends is a product of the pathologically diseased livers of ducks and geese that have been force fed. See ALDF Press Releases, September 25 and October 1, 2012.