Tyson Exposed by Former Suppliers’ Convictions

Posted by Daniel Lutz, ALDF Litigation Fellow on April 16, 2013

On March 29, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission responded to ALDF’s complaint against Tyson Foods, Inc., assuring ALDF that it will give the concerns expressed in the complaint "full consideration and appropriate attention" and noting that policing the truthfulness of environmental claims like those made by Tyson is an agency "enforcement priority."

Lodged over two months earlier, ALDF’s complaint to the FTC called on the agency to investigate and enforce against false and misleading advertising by meat processing giant Tyson. Namely, ALDF pointed out Tyson’s deceptive marketing tactic of broadly advertising a quotation by Tyson Chairman and CEO John Tyson, claiming that the meat processor is "leading the industry pursuit . . . to further enhance animal well-being."

This flies in the face of Tyson’s actual reliance upon inhumane factory farming practices.

Tyson uses gestation crates, in which pregnant sows are unable to turn around, lie down comfortably, or take more than a step forward or backward. Many U.S. states ban gestation crates and numerous animal experts consider the crates inhumane. Yet across its promotional materials, Tyson claims to provide environments "favorable" to pigs. Tyson has simply renamed its gestation crates as "individual housing"–changing the name, rather than the practice, in a deceptive move to appeal to ethically conscious consumers.

Similarly, Tyson says it provides a "comfortable environment" for chickens. Tyson’s methods fit no definition of comfortable. Reviewing Tyson’s strict policies on chicken housing density, housing lighting, and weight gain, animal welfare groups have found that Tyson produces no humanely raised chicken products. Animal advocates routinely expose animal cruelty in slaughterhouses connected to Tyson.

Recently, five employees of a Tyson pig supplier were found guilty of criminal animal cruelty based on an HSUS undercover investigation of conditions at a Wyoming pig facility. The undercover video footage shows abhorrent living conditions for mother pigs in gestation crates, as well as workers kicking and punching pigs, highlighting the absurdity of Tyson’s "animal well-being" claims. But as the New York Times has reported, states under pressure from big agribusiness are attempting to eliminate any peek into the internal operations of factory farms through ag gag–or "anti-whistleblower"–laws. With the public increasingly unable to see into the meat production jungle, the FTC must step up its enforcement against deceptive advertising.

Tyson also claims to be environmentally sound, yet multiple courts have held Tyson responsible for environmental hazards. And as recently as this April 4, Tyson settled with the EPA for nearly $4 million with regard to the company’s release of dangerously high levels of ammonia, critically injuring and killing employees.

ALDF urges the FTC to correct Tyson’s attempts to reel in ethical consumers with deception.

8 thoughts on “Tyson Exposed by Former Suppliers’ Convictions

  1. obxmaureen says:

    How do these people, IE John Tyson, sleep at night? I don’t understand it!

  2. HeidiMPF says:

    I totally agree with obxmaureen… Seriously. Thank you ALFD. I am disgusted with all the happy family farm imagery on so many packages too, when you know it’s nowhere NEAR what that looks like.

  3. Pamela Beck says:

    That does it! No more Tyson products for me. Let’s have a mass boycott of all tyson products, maybe they will get it then?
    What is the USDA’s job, if not to assure humane and sanitary conditions for food animals???? What good are they, if they allow this insanity? And the conditions they allow ARE horrendous! WHAT GOOD IS THE USDA? Let’s get a REAL GUARDIAN ON THE JOB.

  4. ferne harasimiw says:

    North American companies need to start listening to us, the consumer. Have they noticed that we slowly stop buying their products. We shouldn’t have to “prove” animal cruelty. Just know it’s there and fix it, not try to hide it.

  5. crystalsapphire says:

    Tyson is a mega giant of farmed foods.. I never buy their cheap, processed crap. Although not a complete vegetarian, I just eat fish, I buy chicken and some beef for my dogs. I am glad Foster Farms has added the “humane farming” label. I helped in passing California’s “Prop. 2”, to make chicken, pigs and veal raising more humane. I still hate the way most are “raised”, however, it made the lives of farm animals easier, and they are treated better.

  6. Diane says:

    And we are boycotting too

  7. Sarah Gonzales says:

    We could start by making a good choice for ourselves, the environment, and most especially the animals if we would abstain from eating animals. My health has improved dramatically by simply deleting meat, dairy and eggs from my diet.

  8. JML says:

    I am horrified at the abuse these poor factory farm animals are exposed to. I’m ashamed of our elected politicians who cave into the big agriculture companies. Bravo to the ADLF! I don’t eat pork anymore and eat very little beef and chicken, and plan on eating even less meat. Everyone should keep note on the politicans who vote “yea” on ag gag bills in their states.Politicans who don’t care about the humane treatment of all animals should NOT be re-elected!

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