Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, based in Monroe, New Hampshire, is facing a lawsuit backed by PETA, the animal rights organization.
The four plaintiffs in the suit, filed in a New York federal court earlier this month, are consumers who claim they were misled by the company’s marketing.
The lawsuit targets the company’s Nellie’s Free Range Eggs label. It says the label’s packaging, depicting hens roaming in a grassy field, contrasts with video footage collected on one of the company’s partner farms in Pennsylvania. The video, taken on a public tour of the farm, shows hens packed in an indoor shed.
Jesse Laflamme, the CEO and third-generation owner of Pete and Gerry’s, says videos and photographs are permitted on all of the company’s farms.
In a statement emailed to NHPR, Laflamme said the lawsuit is a “publicity stunt to promote [PETA’s] vegan agenda.” He says PETA chose to target his operation instead of the majority of egg operations in the country, which keep hens in inhumane battery cages.
“By providing a humane alternative to battery cage egg production -- that's not veganism -- we pose a greater threat to PETA, whereas the battery cage industry actually perpetuates their agenda,” Laflamme told NHPR in an interview.
Pete and Gerry’s works with over 130 farms in 12 states. The farms raise hens according to the Certified Humane free-range standards, which means their hens are not kept in cages and have access to the outdoors.
Pete and Gerry’s said they are exploring legal action against PETA’s claim.