The Humane Society of the United States has released undercover footage allegedly showing the mistreatment of birds and unsanitary conditions at a Pennsylvania supplier of eggs to grocery retailer Costco (COST).
The video was shot at Hillandale Farms in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Humane Society said its customers include retail giant Costco.
Footage shows hens caged with dead, decaying and mummified birds. It shows cages packed so tightly that some birds get their legs stuck in the wire.
"Nearly a decade has passed since Costco indicated it wanted to end such abuse in its supply chain, and these birds continue languishing, every minute of every day, in conditions so filthy it would make most people's stomachs churn," HSUS vice president of farm animal protection Paul Shapiro said in a statement.
The eggs are sold at some Costco stores under the brand name 'Nearby Eggs' in packages depicting an image of hens roaming free in a pasture outside a picturesque red barn with the claim 'Farm Fresh' emblazoned on the carton," the Humane Society said.
Companies including Burger King and Starbucks (SBUX) are among those actively converting to 100 percent cage-free eggs, while Whole Foods (WFM) has not sold eggs from caged hens in more than a decade, the Humane Society said.
Family-run Hillandale said Tuesday that its standards were compromised by what it described in a statement as an "activist," hired as an employee, who disregarded farm procedures. The company says it was his job to address the type of issues shown in the video he shot.
Hillandale says independent experts have reviewed its operations and concluded the images reflected an isolated incident.
Costco did not immediately return a request for comment.