Chicago, IL – A federal lawsuit claims Walmart has deceived customers who buy its Organic Marketside brand eggs, according to Reuters. The suit, filed Monday, claims the mega retailer is selling organic eggs laid by hens raised in enclosed structures under package labels that said the birds had access to the outdoors.
The suit is seeking reimbursement for consumers who paid high prices for the eggs, distributed by Cal-Maine.
The suit also seeks an injunction from the court to force Walmart and Cal-Maine to end their deceptive marketing of Organic Marketside eggs.
As Whole Foods Magazine reported in December, the proposed Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP), which fall within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were finalized at the end of the Obama administration. Those rules required animals to have access to outdoor grazing. However, big egg producers held tens of thousands of hens in houses that only had access to the outdoors through small enclosed porches, rather than pastures. The finalized rules at the end of the Obama administration deemed these porches inadequate.
Large egg-producing companies and some non-organic farm groups fought these rules, viewing them as a threat. The Trump administration withdrew the regulations because they exceeded the statutory authority of the USDA, according to NPR. This sparked outrage among many organic activists.
“Integrity of organics must stay strong. The standards can’t be watered down for the industry to thrive,” said Jeff Huckaby, president of Grimmway Farms.