A Costco-owned slaughterhouse is being accused of engaging in "cruel" animal practices including cramming chickens into "filthy sheds" and breeding them to grow to an unnatural weight.
An undercover investigation allegedly revealed how Lincoln Premium Poultry's practices directly contrast "Costco’s claim that animal welfare is a critical component" of its chicken supply chain, according to Animal rights group Mercy for Animals "Revealing the hidden price of Costco chicken" investigation.
Representatives for Lincoln Premium Poultry did not immediately return FOX Business' request for comment.
In 2019, farmers began raising chickens for the Nebraska slaughterhouse which supplies the wholesale club with many of the tens of millions of rotisserie chickens it sells each year, Mercy said.
One year later, the animal's rights group said it discovered "large piles of dead, rotting animals" on the facility’s grounds outside the barns which housed live chickens.
"Costco members deserve to know the truth about where their chickens come from and how Costco is failing to live up to the animal welfare standards members expect and the company claims to support," the group said.
Additionally, an undercover investigator captured animals being forced to live for weeks in their own waste while being raised to "grow so large so fast that they often cannot support their weight." The animals allegedly struggle to walk and "many die from organ failure," the group said.
Aside from the terrible living conditions, the investigator allegedly witnessed "countless birds with open wounds, ammonia burns, broken bones, and twisted necks and beaks," the group said.
Costco told FOX Business that "independent audits are regularly performed to ensure all parties are consistently in compliance" and that Costco and Lincoln will "use the results of our audits as well as other sources of information, including this video" to further improve its animal welfare processes.
"Costco is committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare, humane processes and ethical conduct throughout the supply chain," the company said in a statement. "Lincoln Premium Poultry (LPP) shares our commitment, as do the independent growers selected for the program who have been carefully chosen based on our mutual business philosophies."
Mercy for Animals says Costco has the "power to implement meaningful animal welfare requirements for these farms" and is urging the company to take action.
According to Mercy for Animals, over 200 companies have already adopted Better Chicken Commitment standards which "ban the worst cruelty from their operations" and so far, "Costco has failed to do the same."