CHICAGO - Supermarket giant Kroger Co. is facing a lawsuit charging it deceived consumers by marketing a store brand allegedly raised under standard commercial farming conditions as humanely raised chicken products, according to Reuters. Filed on Feb. 11 in Superior Court of California in Los Angeles County, the complaint seeks class-action status against Kroger for allegedly misleading California consumers with claims about the grocer's Simple Truth premium-priced store brand of chicken.

Kroger has not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit, said Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey on Feb. 12. "What we have on our Simple Truth chicken label is information for our customers that we believe is accurate, and we intend to vigorously defend our label," he told Reuters.

According to the lawsuit, the Simple Truth chicken products were packaged with labeling stating the chickens were raised "in a humane environment" and "cage free." However, standard industry practice for broiler chickens is to house them inside large buildings, not cages. Simple Truth chicken products are produced by Perdue Farms, which has followed industry practices such as electrically stunning birds prior to slaughter, the lawsuit reveals.

The complaint states, in part….."Simple Truth chickens are treated no differently than other mass-produced chickens on the market." This case provides an example of the increasing tension between food retailers and US consumers, who have in recent years become more vocal about how food is produced and marketed.