Organic Consumers Association Takes Legal Action Against Foster Farms

Organic Consumers Association, with Richman Law & Policy, sue Foster Farms Over Misleading “Five Freedoms” Chicken Welfare Claims


April 18, 2024 – Washington, D.C. – Organic Consumers Association and Richman Law & Policy filed a complaint against Foster Farms on April 10, 2024, in the District of Columbia Superior Court. The complaint alleges that Foster Farms, in violation of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act, deceptively markets its chicken products with claims concerning animal welfare.

Foster Farms, the complaint alleges, misleads consumers by claiming that, “The chickens we raise enjoy the five freedoms.” Organic Consumers Association challenges these freedoms Foster Farms claims its chickens have:

  1. Freedom from discomfort;
  2. Freedom from injury, pain, or disease; and
  3. Freedom from fear and distress.

In addition, Foster Farms claims each of the chickens under its care “has the space to roam and act like a chicken” and has “enough room to run around, sit, scratch, roll around, scratch, and run some more.”

Despite these claims, multiple undercover investigations reveal a pattern of inhumane treatment and intentional animal abuse at Foster Farms facilities. The indoor space that Foster Farms allocates to the chickens under its care is minimal—less than one square foot per bird, or, about the size of a sheet of standard printer paper—which does not give these chickens room to express their natural behaviors. And, in addition to this extreme confinement, Foster Farms does not provide sufficient outdoor access or indoor enrichments necessary for these chickens to forage, nest, peck or perch.

The reality is that chickens under Foster Farms’ care regularly suffer discomfort, injury, pain, disease, fear and distress their entire lives. 

These chickens are bred to grow unnaturally fast to proportions that prevent their tiny legs from supporting their immense bodies, making walking painful or impossible. They live out their short lives packed into windowless sheds where they are constantly covered with, and breathing in, their own waste. This causes a variety of skin infections, including contact footpad dermatitis, a painful condition where the chicken’s skin becomes inflamed, causing lesions and deep ulcers.

At slaughter, chickens are supposed to be rendered unconscious typically by electrical stunning, before they are slaughtered with a cut to the throat. They are supposed to be bled out and no longer breathing by the time they are de-feathered in a scalding vat of water. But, years of USDA inspection records show that it isn’t unusual for chickens in Foster Farms’ slaughterhouses to miss the stunning and even the slaughtering and enter the scalders alive, fully conscious, and able to experience pain.  

In 2018, Foster Farms was issued Noncompliance Reports for what the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection service described as “egregious, deliberate mistreatment of poultry” and an “ongoing pattern of birds dying otherwise than slaughter.” Birds entered scalders alive, fully conscious, and aware. Others were trapped or crushed as they moved through dump shoots towards slaughter. 

Foster Farms advertises and markets its chicken with animal welfare representations designed to mislead D.C. consumers into believing that the chickens “enjoy” freedom from injury, pain, disease, fear, and distress, can express natural or instinctive behaviors, and have “enough room to run around.” In reality, Foster Farms chickens spend their lives in conditions of extreme confinement. They are farmed and killed using inhumane practices that subject those chickens to injury, pain, disease, fear, and distress.

Organic Consumers Association and Richman Law & Policy are fighting to end this type of deceptive marketing directed at D.C. consumers.

Foster Farms’ chicken is produced and sold throughout the country including in Washington, D.C.

To view the complaint, follow this link.



Organic Consumers Association is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) advocacy organization based in Washington, DC, and Finland, MN. OCA addresses crucial issues around food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade and environmental sustainability. OCA reaches more than two million people each week via email and social media.


Richman Law & Policy is the leading law firm representing consumers and nonprofit organizations in legal advocacy challenging deceptive marketing claims regarding the “greenwashing” and “humanewashing” of animal products. Using consumer protection statutes and other legal tools, Richman Law & Policy has successfully brought numerous actions against companies and operations that deceive consumers about their alleged sustainability and animal care practices.