Trader Joe’s Cage-Free Egg Lawsuit Reaches Settlement

Big Dutchman multi-tiered cage-free facility
Big Dutchman multi-tiered cage-free facility

On June 28, 2018 the Animal Legal Defense Fund announced a settlement in its consumer protection lawsuit against the American grocery store chain, Trader Joe’s. The lawsuit argued that Trader Joe’s was violating multiple California consumer protection laws by selling cage-free eggs in cartons emblazoned with images of hens foraging outdoors in green pastures. In reality, these eggs come from hens who live their entire lives in industrial warehouses with thousands of other hens who never set foot in the grass or breathe fresh air or bathe in sunlight.

“There’s widespread confusion among consumers about egg labeling due to the failure of the federal government to properly regulate egg labels. It’s important for consumers to realize that ‘cage-free’ doesn’t mean ‘cruelty-free,’” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. The lack of labeling regulations allows egg producers “to mislead consumers with undefined terms like ‘natural,’ ‘cage-free,’ and ‘free range,’ or with slogans and imagery depicting idyllic scenarios that do not match the cruel reality of life for most laying hens.”

In 2010, the Animal Legal Defense Fund petitioned federal agencies to issue regulations requiring accurate labeling of egg packaging. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Federal Trade Commission refused, despite their statutory mandates. This forces citizens to hold producers and sellers of eggs accountable through false advertising laws. In response to the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s lawsuit, Trader Joe’s agreed to pull the false packaging not only in California, but nationwide.

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