Fact Check

Costco Lying About Cage-Free Eggs?

A viral Facebook post claimed Costco lied about the sale of cage-free eggs, but the retailer openly disclosed their stances on ethical sourcing and cage-free numbers.

Published Apr 20, 2016

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Costco lied about carrying cage-free eggs in their stores.
What's True

A portion of eggs sold at Costco are not produced by cage-free chickens.

What's False

Costco did not lie or fail to be transparent about some of their eggs not being cage-free, and cage-free eggs are indeed available at their stores.

On 19 April 2016, the web site Sun Gazing published an article ("THIS Is The Disturbing and Alarming Secret Costco Does Not Want You To Know About Their Eggs!") and urged readers to "SHARE" it with friends and family:

The video you are about to watch below is quite disturbing. For the last eight years Costco has claimed that their egg supply came from hens who were cage free. The picture used on their cartons depict chickens roaming free in a beautiful field of grass. An undercover investigation by the Humane Society of the United States, sadly uncovered quite a different reality.

If you are a Costco shopper, the shocking information reported in this footage, is critical for you to be aware of. It reveals that the egg suppliers for Costco keep their chickens in the very worst conditions imaginable ... The cruel and unhealthy conditions for the chickens in the following footage, is not only harmful for the animals, but puts the consumer at great risk for Salmonella poisoning.

The video is hard to watch, but making consumers aware of what Costco is selling, is essential in forcing them to make a change in the brand of eggs they are selling and misrepresenting.

The embedded video was published on 9 June 2015 by the Humane Society of the United States about a May 2015 undercover investigation.  It concluded that chickens producing eggs for some Costco suppliers were kept in abysmal and abusive conditions, including overcrowding and being kept alongside the mummified corpses of other chickens.

The June 2015 video maintained that Costco was lying to consumers by using "imagery of uncaged chickens" on some packaging; however, most Costco egg packaging did not feature that imagery.  The length of the investigation, the circumstances under which it was conducted, and the connection (if any) to Costco's supply chain was not clearly shown.  After the video's April 2016 reappearance, concerned customers visited Costco's page to ask whether the claims were accurate.

In response to one such query, a Costco representative replied:

Costco is committed to the ethical treatment of animals. We enforce this through testing and inspection of facilities, done by persons who are independent of the suppliers. For more information, please visit: https://bit.ly/1SZqUAi. -Ernie

The linked statement was published in December 2015 (several months before the April 2016 article), and said:

Costco is committed to going cage‐free for its egg procurement. Since 2006, we have already substantially increased our percentage of cage‐free eggs: in fiscal 2006 cage‐free eggs represented 2% of eggs we sold and today they represent 26%. In calendar 2016 we expect to sell over one billion cage free eggs. We are working with our suppliers toward a complete and sustainable transition to a cage‐free supply chain. This transition, however, will take time because currently over 90% of the supply of eggs is from caged hens and because other retailers and restaurants are also moving to cage free requirements, placing greater demands on the limited supply.

For an overview of Costco's policies on animal welfare, please visit Corporate Sustainability, Energy & Animal Welfare and select "United States Animal Welfare Report".

The retailer's transition to cage-free eggs apparently began in 2006. While some of Costco's eggs are still not cage-free, the chain has committed to eventually moving to a completely cage-free environment and does not appear to have lied about that position or refused to disclose a timeline for the transition. Cage-free eggs are available (and clearly marked) at Costco, and the retailer has provided documentation of the proportion of cage-free eggs sold by Costco across a ten-year period.

Although it is true that some eggs sold at Costco are not cage-free, the retailer does not lie about the source of their eggs to consumers. The company has offered cage-free options to their members and disclosed both the proportions of cage-free eggs sold and a timeline for going completely cage-free in December 2015.


Schroeder, Eric.   "Costco Commits To Cage-Free Eggs." FoodBusinessNews.   29 December 2015.

Costco Customer Service.   "Costco's Statement on Eggs." December 2015.

Kim LaCapria is a former writer for Snopes.

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