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Tyson barred from “Raised Without Antibiotics” Claim


April 23, 2008
By Canadian Poultry

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Tyson Barred From "Raised Without Antibiotics Claim"
Tyson has lost its battle to advertise its chicken as "raised without antibiotics" or "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."

The suit, filed by Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms in January, alleges violations of federal law prohibiting false advertising and unfair trade practices.

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In his 31-page opinion granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Bennett wrote that the Court “finds that consumers are being misled by Tyson's advertisements proclaiming that its chicken is 'Raised Without Antibiotics” and that a consumer survey launched by the Plaintiff  found that the “qualified language 'Raised Without Antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans' is not likely to be understood by a significant portion of the consumer public."

Judge Bennett stated that the “public interest compels the issuance of a preliminary injunction during the pendency of this case."

In its statement, Tyson said it would appeal the ruling and would also seek a stay to suspend the judge's instruction to remove point of sale materials in stores that sell the products.

The use of ionophores is in question.  Used by all three poultry companies involved in the suit, ionophores are classified by the USDA as an antibiotic. Ionophores have not been shown to pose a significant risk to humans, so Tyson wanted to advertise its chicken as being without harmful antibiotics. The USDA blessed the longer, qualified phrase for use in marketing materials in December, but Tyson's competitors sued a month later.