In a nutshell: Tyson Foods withdraws raised without antibiotics label on chicken.
June 2, 2008–Due to controversy over product labeling regulations and advertising claims, Tyson Foods, Inc. has notified the USDA it is voluntarily withdrawing its qualified Raised Without Antibiotics chicken label.
Additionally, Tyson officials have asked the USDA to consider initiating a public process to bring more clarity and consistency to labeling and advertising rules involving antibiotic-related product claims and all raising claims in general.
What happened? In May 2007, the USDA approved Tyson’s Raised Without Antibiotic chicken label application, which noted Tyson’s chicken feed ingredients included commonly-used antimicrobials known as ionophores.
However, by fall, USDA officials reversed their position, saying they made a mistake, since some organizations have narrowly classified ionophores as antibiotics, though they are not used in human medicine.
According to Wikipedia, ionophores are used as antitbiotics.
In December 2007, the USDA approved a new label and subsequently issued industry guidelines for the claim “Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics That Impact Antibiotic Resistance in Humans.”
Tyson moved forward with a change to this claim on its packaging and in advertising.
A purported class action lawsuit on behalf of consumers is on its way. This would not be the first class action suit against Tyson.
The transition away from Tyson’s qualified Raised Without Antibiotics product label to a new label with no antibiotic claim will be implemented and should be in stores within six weeks though products with the original and qualified labels will continue to be in the marketplace for several months, since they are in frozen inventory and have not yet been placed in a retail meat case.
Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE:TSN), founded in 1935 with headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, is the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork, the second-largest food production company in the Fortune 500 and a member of the S&P 500.