A lawsuit has been filed against Walmart on grounds that the giant U.S. retailer misled shoppers by selling eggs which were supposedly organic and laid by birds that accessed the outdoors. According to the lawsuit the package labels were deceptive since the birds were in enclosed structures.
This comes amidst growing uncertainties among consumers over the production practises in an industry that is worth approximately $0.5 billion. Recently the USDA – U.S. Department of Agriculture put aside plans regarding the definition of birds with outdoor access.
Organic Marketside brand
Per the lawsuit the retail giant stocks cartons of eggs under the Organic Marketside label with the indication that the eggs are produced by birds that have outdoor access. But the lawsuit argues that the supplier of the eggs, Cal-Maine Foods Inc, raises the birds inside enclosed structures which possess screens that let in air.
“Consumers paying more for these eggs have been deceived. The theoretical ability to view the outdoors is not the same as having access to it,” reads the lawsuit.
According to Walmart the company has not undertaken a review of the allegations though it was taking them seriously. Cal-Maine, the largest producer of eggs in the United States, did not comment. Despite enclosed structures meeting the standards of the USDA with regards to offering outdoor access to animals throughout the year, the expectations of consumers is that the birds will roam freely in the open and access sunshine.
Two years ago a proposal was issued by the USDA with a view to defining the outdoors as areas where the ground is at least 50% soil and with open air. This was aimed at increasing the confidence of consumers with regards to organic labels and it coincided with the USDA revealing that about 50% of organic eggs came from operations where the birds accessed the ‘outdoors’ from roofed porches.
The lawsuit against Walmart comes at a time when retail workers are experiencing disruption following an explosion in online shopping. Currently about 16 million Americans work in the retail sector as cashiers, salespeople, shelf stockers and in other roles. But even though their responsibilities are changing, the pay of retail workers hasn’t kept pace.
Traditional employment opportunities in the retail industry are also in decline as 66,500 positions in the sector were eliminated last year. However some new jobs were created in call centers as well as distribution centers. The hardest-hit niches were consumer electronics and clothing.