Shoppers are putting increased pressure on retailers to be more transparent when it comes to what's in their food.
Kroger (NYSE: KR) is the latest retailer in the spotlight. The largest U.S. grocery chain now faces a lawsuit that claims the chain's "Simple Truth" private label chicken misled consumers in California and its claims of being raised humanely are false.
"What we have on our Simple Truth chicken label is information for our customers that we believe is accurate, and we intend to vigorously defend our label," Kroger spokesman Keith Dailey told Reuters on Wednesday. The lawsuit claims that Simple Truth chicken labels state the animals are raised in a humane environment and are "cage free."
But Kroger's Simple Truth chicken is supplied by Perdue Farms, known for many inhumane practices, according to Reuters.
Kroger introduced the Simple Truth brand in 2012, when it combined its Natural Preferred and Private Selection Organic store brands into a single option, promising the products would be natural and organic. In just one year, the brand represented $1 billion in sales and was tagged for expansion in 2014.
In recent weeks, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Kraft and Subway have all voluntarily moved to clean up their menu offerings. Chick-fil-A plans to serve all antibiotic-free chicken by 2019; Chipotle is removing GMO foods from its menu; Kraft will remove an artificial preservative from its Kraft Singles slices; and Subway announced it would remove a chemical commonly found in yoga matts from its sandwich bread.
And Long John Silver's is launching a new campaign with an environmental message and new tagline — "Think fish" — that promotes the chain's use of sustainably-harvested fish. Long John Silver's announced in August 2013 it would eliminate trans fats from its menu.
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