Costco Is Under Fire For Allegedly Permitting Animal Abuse

Costco is praised as an affordable grocery giant, boasting low-cost spirits and watermelon-sized tubs of Nutella for roughly the price of a gallon of gas in today's world. The chain has even endured recent grocery inflation over competitors like Target and Walmart as a wholesale membership club. But some fans are rethinking their loyalty to the store after recent allegations and the troubling company history they bring up.

In a new lawsuit via Washington's Superior Court of King County, two shareholders accuse Costco of knowingly participating in animal mistreatment to keep its rotisserie chicken costs low (just $4.99 since 2009), reports FOX Business. The suit alleges that the grocery giant breeds chickens to grow too large too quickly, and the disabled animals are kept in dilapidated facilities where they eventually die from neglect, via the news outlet. Alene Anello, president of animal rights group Legal Impact for Chickens, criticizes, "Once lauded as an innovative warehouse club, Costco today represents a grim existence for animals in Nebraska who are warehoused in inescapable misery," via CBS. Worst of all, this isn't the first time the wholesale grocery figurehead has faced accusations of animal cruelty.

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In 2021, Mercy for Animals covertly filmed the Costco chicken-processing plant that opened in Nebraska in 2019. The organization published shocking footage, revealing overcrowded sheds, animals exhibiting "unnaturally large and rapid growth," suffering from organ failure, struggling to walk, displaying visible wounds, and left to live surrounded by their own waste.

If proven true, these new allegations directly violate the Nebraska Legislature, which considers abandonment or neglect of an animal as a Class I misdemeanor. It's a Class IV felony if the animal is seriously injured or killed as a result of that neglect. If the guilty party is charged with a second occurrence of knowingly neglecting or otherwise abusing an animal in this way, it's a ClassIIA felony –- which is what Costco is currently facing.

In 2021 alone, Costco sold 106 million rotisserie chickens, per CBS. Costco itself professes that it is "committed to the welfare, and proper handling, of all animals that are used in the production of products sold at Costco...This is not only the right thing to do, but it also is an important moral and ethical obligation we owe to our members, suppliers, and most of all to the animals we depend on for products sold at Costco." Animal rights groups might take issue with these claims. Consumers will have to decide for themselves how much that $4.99 chicken really costs in the end.