Tyson Foods Inc. has settled a consumer class action suit targeting its chicken "Raised Without Antibiotics" claim.
An agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore provides that individual consumers will receive as much as $50 apiece, according to a report by the Daily Record in Baltimore. Tyson must shell out $5 million. Less $600,000 for administrative costs, $4.4 million is available to parties who bought certain products between certain dates in 2007 and 2009, the report said. The judge has still to approve to the deal.
The case originated in January 2008 when poultry competitors Perdue Farms and Sanderson Farms sued Tyson alleging its raised-without-antibiotics labeling constituted false advertising. Six months later, Tyson withdrew the labels from its chicken. (See Tyson abandons raised without antibiotics label, Meatingplace, June 3, 2008.) Consumer suits followed.
At issue were ionophores, a chicken feed additive used by all three companies that is classified by the USDA as an antibiotic. Because ionophores have not been shown to pose a significant risk to humans, Tyson wanted to advertise its chicken as being without harmful antibiotics. The USDA approved the longer, qualified phrase for use in marketing materials in December of 2007, but Tyson's competitors sued one month later.
Source: Tyson Foods