NAD Finds Perdue Farms’ Artwork and “Raised Cage Free” Advertising Claims for its Non-Organic Fresh Chicken Product Line Not Misleading

New York, NY – Sept. 17, 2019 – The National Advertising Division has concluded that claims made on product packaging, in online advertising, and television commercials for Perdue Farms, Inc.’s Perdue brand non-organic fresh chicken product line do not reasonably convey misleading implied claims about the conditions under which Perdue’s chickens are raised.  The claims were challenged by Tyson Foods, Inc.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB NP’s self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

The text of Perdue’s products accurately describes the chickens as “Raised cage free.”  However, Tyson contended that the challenged advertising, which includes artwork depicting chickens grazing outdoors, implies that the chickens raised for Perdue’s conventional chicken product line are raised in an open field, and are therefore “free-range” or “pasture-raised” and also that Perdue’s chickens are raised in conditions similar to those depicted (i.e., in open fields with expansive room for chickens to graze outside).  Perdue countered that it makes none of those implied claims and that the artwork at issue is simply decorative.

The labels at issue were approved by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), however NAD determined that it may exercise jurisdiction over the implied claims at issue in this challenge and declined Perdue’s request to administratively close the matter.  NAD noted that although FSIS is empowered to review “graphic matter” relating to animal-raising claims, there was no evidence in the record that the artwork was specifically reviewed or that implied claims were evaluated for consumer perception to determine if they are false or misleading.

With regard to Perdue’s product labels, NAD determined that Perdue’s consumer perception survey was sufficiently reliable to demonstrate that consumers did not reasonably take away unsupported implied messages that Perdue’s chickens were raised in conditions other than “cage free” as is stated in the text of the labels.  NAD noted that Perdue’s survey properly sought to elicit consumers’ responses by having them view the package as a whole, including both the “Raised cage free” text and the artwork, as one would experience when grocery shopping.  NAD also examined the perception evidence submitted by Tyson to determine if it was more persuasive than Perdue’s evidence, but determined that Tyson’s survey artificially directed respondents to focus on the artwork in isolation, rendering the results unreliable.

There was no consumer perception survey evidence concerning the “open field” artwork as it appeared on Perdue’s website and in a television commercial, which features a fleeting glimpse of the product packaging with the artwork.  NAD determined that the artwork, as it appears in these contexts, did not reasonably convey an unsupported implied message about Perdue’s chicken raising practices.  NAD concluded that in all the challenged contexts in which the “open field” imagery appears, its use was decorative and atmospheric.  The artwork is not in any way photorealistic and would likely be more accurately characterized as cartoonish, or somewhat abstract, rather than a depiction of the actual conditions under which Perdue’s chickens are raised.  Thus, NAD found that none of the implied claims, as alleged by Tyson, are reasonably conveyed in the advertising. In its advertiser’s statement, Perdue thanked NAD for its thorough review of this matter and stated that it is “pleased that NAD’s independent assessment of Perdue’s packaging and advertising was consistent with the results of the consumer perception survey submitted by Perdue.”