Costco Is Facing a Lawsuit Over Their $4.99 Rotisserie Chickens — Here’s What We Know

published Jun 17, 2022
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Chicken roasted on rotisserie
Credit: Shutterstock/taspho

Costco does a lot of things well. It’s lauded for cheap groceries and frozen meal staples. Some customers even swear by its wine. But according to a lawsuit filed this past Monday, they may be knowingly causing neglect and harm to the chickens at their company-owned processing centers in Iowa and Nebraska.

The suit was filed by animal rights activist group Legal Action for Chickens with the Animal Law Offices on behalf of two Costco shareholders. By not acting lawfully, the plaintiffs allege, Costco is violating its fiduciary duty to shareholders. The complaints specifically address the welfare of the birds raised and processed at Costco’s processing facilities, and cover a large list of alleged abuses.

Included in the suit are the allegations that Costco raises a variety of birds bred to grow at a startlingly fast and unsustainable rate (this is typical of many large-scale poultry producers). These birds struggle to stand upright, and regularly suffer organ damage. The lawsuit also alleges Costco “fails to provide any realistic method for its disabled birds to reach food and water, or to receive individualized veterinary care.”

The reason for such stressful conditions? Media coverage suggests the retailer knowingly creates, perpetuates, or ignores these abuses in order to keep the cost of its rotisserie chickens low (they retail for $4.99 per bird). Costco has yet to comment publicly on this case. 

Although the convenience of a store-bought rotisserie chicken is hard to deny, here at Kitchn, we’ve found some great homemade roast chicken alternatives. Be sure to check out Ina Garten’s take on the recipe before visiting your next grocery store.