Tyson to suspend chicken ad campaign, rules court

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Tyson, Antibiotic resistance, Advertising

Marketing campaign at US meat processor set to be dismantled as
federal appeals court rules US meat processor Tyson to comply with
an order to remove misleading advertising from 8,500 stores.

Imposed last week, a judge in Richmond, Virginia ruled the poultry giant has 14 days - until 15 May - to remove advertising that claims its products are raised without antibiotics. The ruling follows a preliminary injunction issued last month by Baltimore's US District Court that included an order for the company to immediately cease advertising its chicken as raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans. Tyson had then requested the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia to stay the ruling by the Baltimore judge. "We're disappointed the motion for a stay has been denied and are evaluating our legal options,"​ Tyson Foods spokesman Gary Mickelson said in a statement last week, reports the Washington Post​. The firm said it has already contacted stores about removing POP (point-of-purchase) advertising. The action was sparked off by rival poultry processing companies Perdue Farms of Maryland and Sanderson Farms of Mississippi. The two companies had filed the suit against Tyson in a joint injunction that sought to stop Tyson's ad campaign. The competitors argued that Tyson's marketing campaign for the "raised without antibiotics thought to lead to drug resistance in humans" claim misleads consumers because none of the companies use those types of drugs. Sanderson said it lost $4 million in sales since last year as a result of the Tyson campaign, while Perdue contended it lost $10 million. All three companies use feed containing the animal medication ionophores, added to poultry feed to help prevent an intestinal colonization by coccidia. Tyson started marketing its retail fresh chicken under a USDA accepted "Raised Without Antibiotics" label in summer 2007. After the USDA claimed an error in its approval of a fully-disclosed antimicrobial feed ingredient under the claim, the company later sought and received approval for a modified label, which reads "Raised Without Antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans." Tyson said in a statement that the preliminary injunction does not affect the USDA-approved product label used on Tyson's retail fresh chicken products. It does affect Tyson advertising of the products, the firm added. The ruling comes in the same week the US processor of beef, pork and poultry said rising raw material costs would continue to impact the bottom line. "Including other inputs such as cooking oil, breading and other feed ingredients, the increase in costs for the fiscal year may approach $1 billion compared to fiscal 2007," said​ Richard L. Bond, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods, reporting on figures for the second quarter ended March 29, 2008. The firm reported a loss of $5 million, or 2 cents a share, in the three months ended March 29, compared with a profit in the same period a year ago of $68 million, or 19 cents a share. The loss in this fiscal year's second quarter includes $47 million in charges for previously announced plant closings and asset impairments.

Related topics: Regulation, Food safety and labeling

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