Major wholesale retailer Costco is facing a lawsuit over alleged mistreatment of the chickens used for its famous $4.99 rotisserie-grilled chickens.

Driving the news: According to Food and Wine, Legal Impact for Chickens, a “litigation nonprofit dedicated to making factory-farm cruelty a liability,” recently announced it had filed a lawsuit with Animal Law Offices on behalf of two Costco shareholders.

  • “The plaintiffs in the claim say the company is violating its fiduciary duty to shareholders through its ‘illegal neglect and abandonment’ of animals at its Nebraska chicken processing plant,” The Daily Beast reported.
  • The shareholders claim the company breeds chickens that are “too big to stand, and the ‘disabled birds slowly die from hunger, thirst, injury and illness,’” per The Daily Beast.

What they’re saying: Alene Anello, president of Legal Impact for Chickens, spoke out against Costco’s treatment of its chickens, saying, “Once lauded as an innovative warehouse club, Costco today represents a grim existence for animals in Nebraska who are warehoused in inescapable misery,” per CBS News.

  • Costco has not yet commented on the lawsuit.

Details: According to CBS News, the lawsuit was filed on June 13 and follows a hidden camera investigation by a Los Angeles-based animal rights group, Mercy for Animals, in 2021.

  • The Nebraska chicken plant opened in 2019 in efforts to cut costs and to maintain the inexpensive rotisserie chicken price, per Lincoln Premium Poultry.
  • “The Fremont facility processes about 2 million chickens per week. The company has said it supplies nearly half of the chain’s total rotisserie chickens,” The Best Mix reported.
  • Last year, Costco sold 106 million rotisserie chickens, according to CBS News.