Animal Rights Group Accuses Sparboe Farms of False Advertising

Mercy for Animals says egg producer makes 'false claims' about animal welfare.

ByABC News
December 1, 2011, 10:19 AM

Dec. 1, 2011 — -- Sparboe Farms, the egg producer featured in a recent ABC News report, has been accused of false advertising by the animal rights group that captured video of alleged animal abuse at the company's factory-style egg farms.

Mercy for Animals has filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate allegedly false claims made by Sparboe. The rights group says while the nation's fifth largest egg producer says its hens receive "five essential freedoms" to ensure their welfare, the company doesn't actually provide those freedoms. The group says Sparboe is misleading consumers who buy its eggs.

On the Sparboe Farms website, the "Animal Care Code of Conduct" states that the company's hens won't suffer from hunger, thirst or pain. It also says that Sparboe hens have "freedom to express normal behavior" and "freedom from fear and distress."

In the FTC complaint, Mercy for Animals calls these claims "blatantly false" and points to the hidden camera video taken by an undercover operative in the company's egg farms over a three-month period. The video, which showed animal abuse and unsanitary conditions at facilities in three states, first aired as part of the ABC News investigation. After learning of the results of the ABC News investigation, major Sparboe customers, including McDonald's and Target, severed their ties with the egg producer.

WATCH the '20/20' report on Sparboe Farms.

Mercy for Animals says Sparboe has given consumers a false picture of the procedures at its egg farms, claiming Sparboe has "company-wide, top-down policies aimed at maximizing profits at the expense of the health and welfare of the hens and chickens."

READ the FTC complaint.

Sparboe did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Mercy for Animals complaint.

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