Costco’s letter to customers and suppliers reveals chicken deaths were a result of a private company’s investigation

Foster Farms recalls 148,000 pounds of chicken sold at Costco that may contain plastic, bird feces, or both — nearly all of it chicken raised on farms that did not comply with federal laws, according to a letter sent on Monday to Costco’s corporate office.

The letter was obtained and posted by the San Francisco Chronicle.

“To make matters worse, when our investigators went through their files, they found hundreds of customer and supplier complaints that either were dismissed by the company or were found to be meritless.”

“These chickens may or may not be bad for you, but they’re definitely bad for their company,” said the letter’s author, Robert W. Foulois, an attorney for Consumers Union who is spearheading the government investigation. “That is why we have sent this letter to Costco. We are demanding an immediate investigation to determine if there are systemic problems at their supply chain, and if so, to find and fix them.”

The letter states Costco, “a private company, cannot legally be held accountable for the actions of private parties it does not control.”

The letter from Foulois to Costco’s corporate office concludes with: “We are asking you to open an investigation immediately, and we’re writing today to inform you that our investigative team’s findings are serious — and, perhaps, life-threatening.”

The letter, dated Sept. 9 but obtained by the Chronicle, appears to have been written in response to complaints from Costco’s customers and suppliers.

“As you know, Costco does not investigate issues of animal welfare and animal safety,” the letter states. “However, when we discovered that dozens of Costco warehouse customers have recently reported that their chickens were killed by Costco employees, we decided that it was time to perform our own investigation. The investigation could have been based on the fact that Costco is an agricultural company and because the facts don’t support either a reasonable argument

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