Lawsuit accuses Tyson Foods of deceptive marketing

Tyson Foods is being sued by Food & Water Watch and the Organic Consumers Association, with both organizations accusing the largest poultry company in the United States of deceptive marketing and advertising.

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BCFC | Bigstockphoto.com
BCFC | Bigstockphoto.com

Tyson Foods is being sued by Food & Water Watch and the Organic Consumers Association, with both organizations accusing the largest poultry company in the United States of deceptive marketing and advertising.

The two organizations filed their suit in D.C. Superior Court.

In the complaint filed in court, the plaintiffs state that Tyson, in its advertising and marketing materials, makes false representations regarding its commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability. Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter in a press release, argued that from 2013 to 2015, Tyson Foods was guilty of more than 300 wastewater Clean Water Act permit exceedances, and therefore, “Any claims of environmental responsibility are patently false.”

The groups also allege the company’s claims of raising animals in a humane way are misleading. They allege that Tyson’s practices include:

  • routine use of anti-parasitic drugs;
  • injection of chicken eggs with formaldehyde;
  • production of chickens contaminated with antibiotic-resistant superbugs;
  • washing of the Tyson products with hazardous chemical disinfectants; and
  • crowding of birds by the tens of thousands into massive industrial warehouses with no access to the outdoors.

The groups filing the lawsuits are being represented in court by Richman Law Group and Animal Equality.

When contacted to comment on the lawsuit, Tyson Foods issued the following statement: "We will not comment on this pending litigation, but will say we believe in transparency and have been increasingly open about our business as we’ve shown through our annual sustainability reports. We’re committed to continuous improvement in everything we do. That’s how we’ve become the world’s leading producer of no-antibiotics-ever chicken, why we employ more than 2,500 food safety professionals, implemented third-party animal welfare audits and video monitoring, have the largest team of animal welfare specialists, and have set a science-based target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2030." 

Tyson Foods has been presented with multiple Clean Water Awards by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. Its facility in Scranton, Arkansas, was honored with the award in 2017, while facilities in Russellville, Arkansas, and Wilkesboro, North Carolina, were honored in 2016 and 2014, respectively.

Tyson Foods earlier in July had an accidental wastewater release at its turkey further processing plant in Zeeland, Michigan. This incident was caused by a malfunctioning piece of equipment and resulted in the release of about 1,800 gallons of wastewater. All water in this incident was retained on site, the impacted soil was recovered and disposed of, and there were no impacts on the groundwater or waterways, a company spokesman said.

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