The Startling Truth This Undercover Video Reveals About Costco's Chickens

On February 6, Mercy for Animals, an international nonprofit animal protection organization, uploaded a video to, which depicts images of extreme animal cruelty.

Footage from a hidden camera recording of the Nebraska-based Costco owned slaughterhouse (which opened in 2019) was captured by a Mercy for Animals investigator. It shows chickens suffering from broken limbs and burns, thousands of chickens kept closeted in sheds living amongst their own excrement, and piles of dead chickens being scooped with a shovel. Perhaps worse, the video reveals that the breed Costco uses for their infamous rotisserie chickens grow abnormally large, so much so that they can no longer walk and occasionally fall over — only to be trampled by other chickens. Furthermore, since their weight means they struggle to walk, it causing them to sit in their waste-filled litter, causing more damage.

"While we cannot change the outcome for the chickens suffering in this shameful footage," Leah Garcés, Mercy For Animals' president, told VegWorld Magazine, "Costco has control over millions of animals' lives and can take immediate action by adopting the Better Chicken Commitment, a set of higher welfare standards that would ban the cruel practices uncovered by this investigation." Better Chicken Commitment is a policy embraced by companies including Burger King, Popeyes, and Starbucks that, at a minimum, requires all chickens used do not experience live-dumping and live-shackling. Its more strict version demands a maximum density, better cages, and third party audits.

Costco has yet to respond.

The cost of low prices

The Costco chicken plant was conceived to offset the costs of their loss-leading $4.99 rotisserie chickens, as CNN explained back in 2019. The point is that the low priced chicken would lure customers into the store and through a variety of other tempting purchases; But keeping the cost of production at a point where they did not have to raise the price of the chicken proved difficult enough for Costco to expand into sourcing their own chickens.

However, as the Costco Exposed video shows, the most efficient method to procure chickens is to subject them to a life of suffering, as the people who uploaded the video viscerally describe in the accompanying text: "Crowded, filthy barns. Chickens struggling to walk under their own unnatural weight. Bodies burned bare from ammonia-laden litter. Dead days-old chicks. Piles of rotting birds. This is Costco Chicken."

The scope of the problem also contains the rotisserie chicken's popularity. In the CNN piece, the writer notes that in 2018, 91 million of the birds were sold. In 2020, as Eat This, Not That! reported, Costco sold 101 million. Their coverage also notes that over 2 million chickens move through the Nebraskan plant each week. If Costco were to accept the Better Chicken Commitment, prices would rise, but for many Costco consumers, a paying more to reduce barbarity may be worth it. Doing so, however, would certainly ruin Costco's loss leader strategy — but at least they'd still have their $1.50 hot dog and sodas