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News 574 views update:Jun 18, 2008

Antibiotic-free labelling - Tyson sues USDA

Tyson Foods recently sued the USDA over its rules for labelling chicken raised without antibiotics.

Tyson, the second largest US chicken processor, filed a lawsuit, calling itself a "victim" of a flawed regulatory process that misinterprets the meaning of the word "raised" and haphazardly applies its standard among different companies.
Earlier in June the protein giant voluntarily withdrew its labels for chicken raised without antibiotics due to "uncertainty and controversy over product labelling regulations".
The USDA allowed the company to make use of the "raised without antibiotics" label, but reversed the decision at a later stage.
Controversy
Reuters reports that the controversy stems from the company's use of antibiotics for pre-hatch vaccinations 2-3 days before chicks hatch. In the lawsuit, it says the chickens are antibiotic-free from hatch to slaughter so it has used the label "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans".
It is further reported that Tyson said the USDA changed its policy so that the company and other producers can no longer use that label if antibiotics are administered "in ovo" before the chickens have hatched.
The USDA gave Tyson until June 18 to voluntarily remove its labelling on millions of packages. Consequently, Tyson requested a preliminary injunction on that timetable, stating that it was an insufficient amount of time to create and print new labels. However, the request was withdrawn because the Food Safety and Inspection Service agreed to extend the withdrawal date to July 9.
 
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