OCA Sues Handsome Brook Farm Over Pasture-Raised Claims

August 30th, 2016

Cornucopia’s Take: Cornucopia seeks to ensure the integrity of organic egg production.  Handsome Brook’s rating on our egg scorecard has been listed as “suspended,” pending our own investigation that we have been conducting over the last few months.  For specifics on this investigation, please see the status of our investigation.


Egg Retailer Handsome Brook Farm Sued Over Accuracy of Pasture-Raised Labeling
Organic Consumers Association
Contact: Natalia Lima, (201) 679-7088; Katherine Paul, (207) 653-3090; Alexis Baden-Mayer, (202) 744-0853

Consumer and Animal Protection Advocates Allege Eggs Do Not Meet Consumer Expectations

handsome_brook_eggs_cartonWASHINGTON, D.C. – The Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and The Richman Law Group announced the filing of a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court against egg retailer Handsome Brook Farm, on behalf of OCA. The lawsuit alleges Handsome Brook Farm has been selling eggs labeled as “pasture raised” that fall far short of consumer expectations for this term—thus violating the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act. The misleading labels also undercut the market for truly pasture-raised eggs.

Handsome Brook Farm has claimed all its eggs come from family farms in its distribution network, but with the rapid growth of the privately owned company, the suit alleges the company has failed to maintain the standards reflected in its packaging and is sourcing eggs from supplier farms that provide limited indoor space or outdoor access for birds. The suit alleges Handsome Brook Farm has even bought eggs on the open market, without regard for whether they came from pasture-raised hens. 

While the American Humane Association (AHA) touts Handsome Brook Farm as a 100 percent pasture raised, American Humane Certified™ egg provider, there are concerns regarding the thoroughness of the AHA audit of Handsome Brook Farm suppliers. And when the company has purchased eggs in the open market for resale, of course, there has been no guarantee they were American Humane Certified or “pasture raised.” Handsome Brook Farm has been reaping a windfall on these falsely labeled eggs, to the detriment of consumers and competitors.

“There is raised awareness about the treatment of animals in the food industry, and consumers are willing to pay higher prices for more humane eggs,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “It is vital that labels accurately represent the products, so that consumers know what they are supporting with their dollars.”

“Consumers have the right to expect that food labels will accurately reflect the ingredients and the production methods described by those labels,” said OCA International Director Ronnie Cummins. “When corporations make false claims on their packaging, consumers are deceived, and honest producers are cheated. It’s our job to call them out on behalf of consumers.”

Read the formal complaint here.

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About the Animal Legal Defense Fund
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

About the Organic Consumers Association
The Organic Consumers Association is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public-interest organization advocating on behalf of more than two million consumers for health, justice, and sustainability. For more information, please visit www.organicconsumers.org.

About The Richman Law Group
A boutique law firm specializing in consumer protection and civil rights litigation, The Richman Law Group was founded on the idea that the client is the essential component in maintaining a successful practice. Composed of a tight-knit cadre of tenacious and diverse professionals, The Richman Law Group is dedicated to fighting for the rights of its clients, and through them, the needs of the community at large. For more information, please visit www.richmanlawgroup.com.

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