People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is filing a lawsuit against grocery chain Whole Foods Market, alleging the animals raised for the pork it sells are not treated as humanely as the company claims. The class-action lawsuit was filed on September 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The animal rights organization and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, the legal firm representing PETA in the litigation, allege that Whole Foods is violating California consumer protection laws by misleading consumers into paying higher prices for meat from animals raised under more humane standards.
A PETA investigator went undercover at a farm in Pennsylvania operated by Sweet Stem Farm, which supplies pork to Whole Foods. PETA, which filmed a video that can be seen on its website, criticizes the farm operators and alleges they picked pigs up by their ears; kept them in crowded pens; failed to bring in a veterinarian to care for sick pigs; and kept the pigs in a trailer for more than 24 hours before being hauled to their destination.
Whole Foods, in a statement to Fortune, said it is aware that PETA had filed a suit, but the company had not yet been served. A company spokesman further stated: “It is important to remember that PETA’s mission is a total end to animal agriculture and animal meat consumption, and their claims against our business are generated with that specific goal in mind.”
Whole Foods Market has 429 stores in the United States, 10 stores in Canada and nine stores in the U.K., according to the company’s website.