The Walmart corporation has made major strides in recent years toward supporting more organic companies and consumers, and the company’s buying power has helped the market tremendously in many ways.
But are you really getting a truly organic product when you shop at Walmart?
According to a new consumer lawsuit filed against the company, the answer may be “no” after all, and it could be affecting both the welfare and the health of animals producing one of the company’s major organic products.
Walmart Sued Over Alleged False Organic Egg Advertising
“We’re removing the premium associated with organic groceries,” said Jack L. Sinclair, executive VP of Walmart according to a 2014 article from Grist.org.
But the surprisingly good prices on organic may come at a hidden cost, especially when it comes to eggs according to a new lawsuit alleging false advertising.
According to this article from the website NewFoodEconomy.org, a producer of Walmart organic eggs, Cal-Maine, may not be following the standards on its labels after all.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in the case investigated Cal-Maine’s Kansas facility in order to collect data and photographs of eight hen houses. What they found was in stark contrast to organic ideals most would expect: the birds were living in “industrial, multi-story barns with tiny portholes and long ramps to access enclosed porches” instead of pastures or even green grass, as noted in the article.
According to the article, the hens were not allowed to enjoy soil or sunshine or eating insects, or other benefits typically associated with organically-raised hens given access to the outdoors.
The product in question bought by one of the plaintiffs, Donnie Lee Gibson of California, is the Organic Marketside brand, which costs about a dollar more than cage-free varieties and included the labeling claim “with outdoor access” on the package. While “organic” eggs are at least supposed to come with the guarantee that animals will at least be fed an organic, non-GMO diet, it’s clear that the customers expected more in this case because of the labeling claims, as well as the traditional interpretation and definition of organically raised hens which includes true outdoor access.
Gibson and other plaintiffs are suing to recoup the costs associated with buying a higher-priced product.
“Consumers are being tricked into paying more based on the ‘outdoor access’ claim on the egg carton,” Gibson said through his attorney Elaine Byszewski according to the article.
The motivation of the lawsuit is to return to consumers the higher amount that they paid for the eggs and get defendants to stop their false advertising.”
The full text of the complaint, Gibson vs. Walmart Stores, can be read by clicking here.
Recently, another investigation of a major “organic egg” company, Eggland’s Best, found similar violations, casting doubts on the validity of the entire industry.
While even these allegedly fake organic eggs are an improvement due to their assumed non-GMO and organic diets, it underscores the importance of buying pastured eggs from a trusted farmer, or even raising your own chickens.
Choose wisely, and be sure to read labels carefully and email or message these companies on social media to hold them accountable whenever you get the chance.
Thumbnail photo via The Cornucopia Institute.