June 26, 2008


Consumers sue Tyson over antibiotic advertisements


Not too long after Tyson Foods settled its antibiotic lawsuit with its competitors, it now faces lawsuits from consumers who filed cases against the company on the basis that it had violated state consumer protection acts.


Four cases representing thousands of people have been put forward this month to federal courts across the country, including two in Baltimore since Friday (June 20, 2008).


The consumers accuse Tyson of false claiming that its chickens are antibiotic-free but the company is resisting the charges. Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company believes they have acted responsibly in the labelling and marketing of their products and would defend themselves against the lawsuits.


Attorneys for Norman and Mary Cutsail of Baltimore filed a lawsuit against Tyson on their behalf.


Tyson's misrepresentations allow it to overcharge consumers for its chicken and chicken products and the company saw substantial increase in volume at the artificially elevated price, according to court documents filed in Baltimore federal court claim.


Tyson was ordered by the court and the USDA to remove its antibiotic-free advertising campaign. The original campaign said Tyson chickens were raised without antibiotics and it was approved by the USDA which later backtracked and instead allowed Tyson to say its chickens were raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans.


Tyson has since sued the agency over its rules for labelling chicken raised without antibiotics, calling itself a victim of a flawed regulatory process that misinterprets the meaning of the word "raised" and haphazardly applies its standard among different companies.


Tyson uses ionophores to prevent intestinal illness in its chickens and injects chicken eggs with a vaccine containing gentamicin. Ionophores are not used in human medications but gentamicin is used in human therapies. However, the company said injecting the eggs before they hatch means it is free to claim that the chickens are raised without antibiotics.

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