Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Bay Area Egg Producers For False “Free-Range” Advertising

Posted on October 1, 2012

Lawsuit Targets Deceptive Promotional Materials Used by Judy’s Eggs and Petaluma Egg Farm

For immediate release

Contact:
Lisa Franzetta, ALDF
Megan Backus, ALDF

Judy's eggsOAKLAND, Calif. – The national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a class-action lawsuit in California Superior Court today against Judy’s Family Farm Organic Eggs (“Judy’s Eggs”) and Petaluma Egg Farm for violating California’s consumer protection laws. ALDF’s complaint targets the packaging used by these egg producers, which leads consumers to mistakenly believe the eggs come from free-range hens. This deceptive marketing violates California’s Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act, which prohibit unfair and deceptive advertising.

ALDF, along with the legal firm Fazio/Micheletti, is asking the court to prevent Judy’s Eggs from using images that imply its products come from non-confined hens in an outdoor environment. Cartons of Judy’s Eggs feature an image of hens roaming about an expansive green field. The packages contain a written message that states hens are “raised in wide open spaces in Sonoma Valley, where they are free to ‘roam, scratch, and play’." In reality, the hens are crammed in covered sheds with no outdoor access.

Implying their hens are free-range when they are not provides an unfair advantage over actual free-range egg producers, and also cheats consumers. Americans spend more for higher levels of animal welfare because they find the suffering of egg-laying hens objectionable. Many, like California resident Camilla Glover, one of the plaintiffs co-filing the complaint, are willing to pay more for perceived improvement in animal treatment. Deceptive packaging like that on Judy’s Eggs allows the company to profit from misleading well-intentioned consumers.

The suit names Steven Mahrt of Petaluma Egg Farm, a large egg production, packaging, and marketing company located in Petaluma, Calif. “Well-established law and public policy make clear that it is not permissible for businesses to increase their sales by misleading their customers” says Jeffrey L. Fazio, attorney with Fazio/Micheletti. “Unfortunately, Defendant Mahrt does not seem to understand that.” Mahrt’s company distributes its eggs regionally at such stores as Safeway, Whole Foods, Oliver’s Market, and El Cerrito Natural Grocery.

ALDF filed the case as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all consumers who bought Judy’s Eggs under the mistaken belief that the hens can roam outdoors. This allows all harmed consumers to recoup monetary damages that could total millions of dollars and send a strong signal to the industry that misrepresentations about animal welfare will not be tolerated.

“Consumers who care about the welfare of egg-laying hens have been deceived,” says Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “People who are willing to pay a premium for Judy’s Eggs have a right to know the truth about the eggs they purchase.”

Copies of the lawsuit are available upon request.


5 thoughts on “Animal Legal Defense Fund Sues Bay Area Egg Producers For False “Free-Range” Advertising

  1. Bradley Wright says:

    I have been purchasing Judy’s eggs for years based solely on their advertising and packaging pictoral/statements. This is very upsetting to find out I have been duped all this time. I certainly will no longer purchase this brand again.

  2. Tamara Chan says:

    I bought into this false image and feel like a fool. I just wrote them a long letter expressing my disappointment. I would seek out Judy’s eggs thinking a along I was buying a humane product.
    I will do my research in the future and encourage others to do the same.

  3. Patty West says:

    Boy was I mislead. Just as they wanted me to be. I have been spending extra on Judy’s Eggs for years. I am appalled at this company and I should have known better. You can believe that anything out of Petaluma Farms will never reach my shopping cart. Sue them please.

  4. What a shame. It’s one thing to decide not to have free-range hens.. it’s another thing to then lie about it.

  5. dlav says:

    very upsetting, i go out of my way and spend extra money to respect the animals that keep me alive.judy fooled me too. sue em!!