Don't Count Your Chicken Necks Before …

Lawsuit claims Perdue, Inc., stuffing unwanted parts in retail chickens

Too many "parts of parts" prompted a federal lawsuit, which was filed in Chicago on Monday.

Yesenia Nieto doesn't like to get giblets -- gizzards, livers, necks and hearts -- in the chickens she buys at the grocery store. When she gets a bird that has more necks and gizzards, hearts and livers stuffed into its carcass than it carried while living, she gets really bothered.

So much so that she is seeking class action status for the lawsuit she filed against Perdue Farms, Inc., on Monday.

Nieto claims Perdue is dumping unwanted chicken parts in its chickens that are sold at retail, not only burdening consumers with these often unwanted parts, but also adding to the cost of the chicken because the parts add to the weight of these birds, which are sold by the pound.

In her 14-page lawsuit, Nieto, identified only as an Illinois resident, claims "Perdue has a secret practice of disposing of additional giblet parts by inserting them (e.g. more than one heart, liver, gizzard, neck per bird) into Perdue whole Chicken sold at retail."

In the suit, which seeks class action status, Nieto says, "by improperly inserting these giblet parts into Perdue chicken, Perdue disposes of its extra giblets by essentially having plaintiff and class 'pay' the disposal costs Perdue itself would incur if it wanted to properly dispose of them. Further, by this improper method, Perdue incorporates the additional giblet parts in the price-per-pound of Perdue whole chickens sold to retail customers."

The suit stems from a purchase Nieto made this year at a Jewel store of a Perdue chicken at approximately $1.19 per pound. After opening the package, she noticed that the chicken "contained an extra bag of giblets stuffed into the body cavity."

Retail purchasers of whole chickens "reasonably expect one set of giblets per bird," the suit states. But Perdue, which "is able to sell a small portion of its giblets at retail [because of] a limited wholesale market for this product," the suit says, is dumping the extra giblets, which are left over after the company processes chicken parts such as legs or wings that are not sold with giblets, into whole birds.

The suit contends that Perdue saves money by dumping extra giblets into whole chickens than by disposing of these extra parts properly. 

Consequently, the suit claims, retail purchasers of its whole chickens, "at one to two dollars per pound, have been turned into part of Perdue's waste processing operation, and have been charged, in the aggregate, a large sum for that unwanted privilege."

The suit seeks unspecified damages, in addition to the class action status.  

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