Complaint to FTC accuses Tyson of making false claims

A complaint accusing Tyson Foods of making false and misleading claims about the way its contract farmers and plant workers are treated has been filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Roy Graber Headshot
(Andrea Gantz)
(Andrea Gantz)

A complaint accusing Tyson Foods of making false and misleading claims about the way its contract farmers and plant workers are treated has been filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Richman Law Group filed the complaint on July 30, on behalf of Food & Water Watch, a food advocacy group, and Venceremos, a workers’ rights organization.

In the complaint, attorney Kim E. Richman asked the FTC to investigate and take action “to enjoin Tyson Foods Inc. from making false and misleading claims.”

Richman alleges Tyson is “egregiously misleading consumers with marketing and advertising representations that falsely suggest that Tyson’s treatment of farmers and other workers involved in the production of Tyson products is materially superior to standard industry practices.”  

Those filing the complaint are challenging Tyson Foods’ claims that its chickens are raised on independent family farms and are processed by workers in a safe environment. “These representations are untrue,” Richman wrote. “In reality, Tyson uses chicken from large corporate-controlled farms and utilizes dangerous practices that are inconsistent with what reasonable consumers expect based on the company’s representations.”

Richman further asserted “the coronavirus pandemic has further exposed the gulf between Tyson’s advertisements and the reality of its production practices.”

In a statement issued to WATT Global Media, Tyson Foods said: “At Tyson, our top priority is the health and safety of our team members, their families and our communities. We take this responsibility very seriously and are doing everything we can to keep them safe and healthy. Our team members are committed to feeding the world, and that begins with the relationships we have with our independent livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers who provide us with high-quality protein. They are helping us supply safe, affordable, high-quality beef, pork and chicken to our customers and consumers during this exceptionally unprecedented and trying time.

"Because the relationship between our company and the farmer is so important, we’ve taken steps to put some guiding principles in writing:

  • Our beef and pork business operates by a Livestock Supplier Creed, which reiterates how vital and respected livestock suppliers are in our operations and confirms our commitment to establishing long-term relationships with them by earning trust and loyalty through our actions."

New Tyson Foods health initiatives

The complaint with the FTC was filed on the same day Tyson announced a new nationwide COVID-19 monitoring strategy and expansion to its health staff. Part of that effort included the creation of a chief medical officer position, and the addition of nearly 200 nurses and administrative support personnel to the company’s health services team.

Past opposition from Food & Water Watch

The latest complaint is not the first time Food & Water Watch has taken a position that’s adversarial to Tyson Foods. In 2019, Food & Water Watch joined  the Organic Consumers Association in filing a federal lawsuit, accusing Tyson Foods of making false representations regarding its environmental stewardship.

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