Press Release

New York AG Gets to the Meat of the Matter in Greenwashing Complaint Against World’s Largest Beef Producer

AG James’ suit alleges ongoing greenwashing campaign.

New York, NY New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a complaint today over the alleged fraudulent business practices and greenwashing campaign of JBS USA Food Company, its parent, subsidiary, and affiliate groups. In the complaint, AG James alleges that JBS USA has engaged in ongoing deception through its claims that it will be “Net Zero by 2040.” According to the complaint, the company has knowingly misled and profited from consumers who were more willing to purchase food labeled as sustainable and as a result, created a greenwashing campaign to give consumers “a license for products they already love.” Yet the company’s claims of “Net Zero by 2040,” which were part of this greenwashing campaign, were made without any viable action plan to meet that commitment. Such a plan may not even be possible given that there are “no proven agricultural practices to reduce…greenhouse gas emissions to net zero at the JBS Group’s current scale.”

According to the complaint, JBS USA admitted it had not calculated the full scope of its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions throughout its supply chain, which includes deforestation of Amazonian forests — a practice that releases GHG into the atmosphere and reduces biomass that could store such emissions. The complaint further alleges that even if JBS had publicly issued an action plan to meet its sustainability commitment, the company had no intention of doing so and instead plans on expanding its production. The complaint cites the company’s CEO as saying: “We need to produce [by] 2050 70% more protein.”

The complaint comes a year after the Better Business Bureau investigated JBS and found its advertising to be misleading and confusing to consumers. The Better Business Bureau recommended that JBS stop making its “Net Zero by 2040” claims. Despite these warnings, the company continued promoting its false sustainability claims.

“As families continue to face the daily impacts of the climate crisis, they are willing to spend more of their hard-earned money on products from brands that are better for the environment,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “When companies falsely advertise their commitment to sustainability, they are misleading consumers and endangering our planet. JBS USA’s greenwashing exploits the pocketbooks of everyday Americans and the promise of a healthy planet for future generations. My office will always ensure that companies do not abuse the environment and the trust of hardworking consumers for profit.”

“Companies that use greenwashing to sell their products hurt consumers and are engaging in risky illegal business,” said Bethany Davis Noll, Executive Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “This lawsuit shows the commitment AG James has to protecting the environment and the residents of New York by calling out fraudulent business practices that seek to take advantage of environmentally conscious consumers.”


About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center:

The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan academic center at NYU School of Law. The Center is dedicated to working towards a healthy and safe environment, guided by inclusive and equitable principles. The Center studies and supports the work of state attorneys general (AGs) in defending, enforcing, and promoting strong laws and policies in the areas of climate, environmental justice, environmental protection, and clean energy.