A U.S. district court recently ruled that Tyson Foods must cease advertising its retail fresh chicken as "raised without antibiotics."
The Department of Agriculture approved the "raised without antibiotics" label in May 2007. The USDA later withdrew approval after reconsidering the fact that Tyson's chicken feed includes ionophores, antimicrobials not in use in human medicine. The USDA then approved a new label, "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."
Tyson's competitors also include ionophores in their chicken feed, but they do not advertise any antimicrobial claims. Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms filed suit to stop Tyson's marketing campaign, though Tyson can still label products with the wording that has current USDA approval.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland granted a preliminary injunction ordering Tyson to cease the marketing campaign. The court ruled that advertisements claiming that Tyson's chickens are "raised without antibiotics" were misleading consumers.
The court also found that a substantial proportion of consumers are unlikely to understand the wording stating that Tyson's chickens are "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."