News update:Apr 14, 2008

US poultry giants fight over antibiotic use

Perdue Farms together with Sanderson Farms have asked a federal judge to order Tyson Foods to stop making what they say are misleading claims. However, Tyson has requested that the US District Judge dismiss the lawsuit.

CNN has reported that Perdue and Sanderson claim advertisements that say Tyson's poultry products don't contain antibiotics thought to affect drug resistance in humans are misleading because none of the companies uses those types of drugs. So, by making the claim, shoppers are likely to think that other companies are using the drugs.
Sanderson has stated that the company has a US$4 mln account to Tyson because of the advertising campaign. Additionally, Perdue claims it has lost approx. US$10 mln in revenue since 2007.
According to attorney Randall Miller, who is lead counsel for Perdue and Sanderson, his clients could make similar claims but feel they are deceptive and have refused to do so. "We feel it's false advertising," he said.
Motion denied
However, as details of the situation unfold, it has been announced that a federal judge yesterday denied a motion filed by Tyson to dismiss the request for a preliminary injunction on the company's "raised without antibiotics" marketing campaign.
Meatingplace has also reported that US District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett plans to issue a ruling on Sanderson Farms' and Perdue Farms' request sometime next week. Judge Bennett previously told involved parties he would not issue any decisions from the bench, but changed his mind Thursday as testimony and closing arguments concluded.
During the hearing Tyson that it is difficult to control the use of point-of-purchase materials by retailers once those materials are distributed to stores. The judge asked Tyson Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing Dave Hogberg earlier this week how quickly Tyson could rescind materials should the company discover that a chicken line contained carcinogens. Hogberg responded that a food-safety issue would require quicker action, a response Bennett called "inadequate."
"It is perfectly natural that one would not be particularly anxious to take down ads that puff one," said Bennett, according to the Daily Record. "I need to understand what the delay is because I don't know there should be any delay, quite frankly."
Remaining positive
Tyson officials remain hopeful about their legal prospects. "We're disappointed the judge denied our motion to dismiss, but remain hopeful he will also deny the plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction," said Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson. "We firmly believe we have acted responsibly in the way we have labelled and marketed our products."
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