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Whole Foods Triumphs Over PETA's 'Humane Meat’ Lawsuit

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It could have cost the company big bucks

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Whole Foods has triumphed over PETA in a court battle that began last fall: A California judge has dismissed the animal rights group's lawsuit over the company's claims about how its meat is raised, Reuters reports.

The class-action suit filed in conjunction with a Whole Foods customer last September accused the company of violating consumer protection laws by misleading people into paying higher prices for supposed "humane meat" raised on farms that actually differ very little from industry standards. Whole Foods touts a five-step rating system that it uses to ensure its meats are raised humanely, but PETA claims said system is "a sham" because the company doesn't take sufficient steps to ensure that its suppliers actually comply with said standards.

The Northern California district court judge said Whole Foods' usage of marketing phrases like "great-tasting meat from healthy animals" and "raised right tastes right" did not violate any laws; the decision handed down on Tuesday also said "the statement that 'no cages' were used to raise broiler chickens was not misleading merely because Whole Foods failed to also disclose that poultry suppliers normally do not use cages in the first place," noting that companies are not required to disclose such product information unless it's an issue of consumer safety.

As Reuters explains, the suit "sought class-action status for California consumers who bought Whole Foods meat products over four years" — which could have resulted in a hefty payout for the high-dollar grocer.

Check out the original complaint as filed by PETA last September, below:

PETA vs Whole Foods.pdf

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