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Tyson Foods has agreed to settle a class action suit brought against the company for the allegedly false claim that their chickens were "raised without antibiotics." The food giant agreed to pay the class of consumers up to $5 million, with a potential for up to $50 per consumer. After paying the attorney's fees of $3 million dollars, any money remaining in the settlement fund will be distributed to food banks. The settlement still awaits the approval of a federal judge.
In 2008, Tyson was ordered by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA, who reviews all such claims, to stop using the statement "raised without antibiotics" on their label. The FSIS wrote that Tyson, "...routinely used the antibiotic Gentamicin to prevent illness and death in chicks. Because of this information, FSIS notified Tyson Foods, Inc. that the company must stop using the qualified raised without antibiotics labels, or any variation of a "raised without antibiotics" claim by June 18. This order came after two major competitors sued Tyson for lost sales due to the claims.
Tyson has insisted that it's claim was technically true. Although company injected its eggs with the antibiotics, since the chickens are not "raised" until after hatching, the company stood behind its claim. A statement from Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said, “[W]hile we believe our company acted appropriately, we also believe it makes sense for us to resolve this legal matter and move on.” According to Consumer Affairs, Tyson spent at least $70 million on its "no antibiotics" campaign before litigation even began.
Consumers who have receipts for the purchase of Tyson chicken my receive up to $50 of the settlement funds. Those without receipts may receive up to $10.00.