Skip to comments.USDA revokes OK for Tyson chicken labels
Posted on 11/19/2007 11:33:00 PM PST by neverdem
AP Business Writer
Tyson Foods Inc. plans to revise labels that say its fresh chicken is "raised without antibiotics" after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said it made a mistake in approving labels that use that term.
The world's largest meat processor said it has been in discussions with the USDA since at least September about the label it introduced this summer in a major marketing campaign for its fresh chicken.
According to a Nov. 6 letter from the USDA, the agency told Tyson it had mistakenly overlooked a feed additive, called ionophores, used for Tyson's chicken when it approved the no-antibiotics label. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has a long-standing policy of classifying ionophores as antibiotics, according to the letter.
But Tyson said Monday that ionophores are not antibiotics and that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not consider them antibiotics.
"We stand by the truthfulness of our product labels and remain fully committed to our Raised Without Antibiotics chicken program. We also expect no disruption in service to our customers," the Springdale, Ark.-based company said in a statement.
The letter, which was not immediately made public, was reported Monday by The Wall Street Journal. Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, confirmed that the agency told Tyson Foods to remove the label.
"It was a mistake on our part and we are now correcting it," she told The Associated Press.
Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said the company plans to submit for USDA approval a new label that still says "raised without antibiotics" but adds some qualifying language about ionophores.
The USDA has given Tyson a temporary stay of 45 days from Nov. 6 to submit a new label and new arguments, to change its feed formula, or to stop using the label.
Tyson said the additional wording it plans will state that no ingredients have been used that could create antibiotic resistance in humans.
"Ionophores are not used in human medicine and do not contribute to the development of antibiotic resistance to important human drugs. They remain in the intestinal tract of the animal and do not carry over into the meat consumed by humans," Tyson's statement said.
The company said ionophores are permitted by the federal government in chicken feed as a preventive measure against coccidiosis, an intestinal illness.
The USDA's Eamich said Tyson could take several steps, such as removing the label, changing the feed formulation or just changing the label's statement in any way so it is accurate and "not misleading."
"We're open to any process the company submits, and we will evaluate it with documentation they provide," she said.
Tyson announced in June it would no longer use antibiotics to raise chicken that is sold fresh in stores and would promote the new product as part of a $70 million advertising campaign.
Tyson, the country's second largest chicken producer after Pilgrim's Pride Corp., said at the time that fresh chicken makes up less than 10 percent of the company's sales, which also include pork and beef.
A number of other Tyson products, like chicken nuggets and other frozen items, are not sold under the "Raised Without Antibiotics" label.
Associated Press writer Christine Simmons in Washington contributed to this report.
Screwed trying to do the right thing.
Just an epiphany. I may be wrong.
LOL, you don’t want to watch any chickens in action!
Chickens will eat anything, and do every day.
That’s OK. I don’t eat anything from Tyson anyway.
I’ve been boycotting them since 1995 when I found out how deeply they were financing the Clintons, involved in all kinds of other corruption, as well as being the (knowing) largest single employer of Illegal Aliens in the country.
It isn’t easy boycotting them; They are also the wholesale supplier to a lot of other food brands, of not only chicken. You have to read the small print on all the labels to avoid giving your money to Tysons.
I spend extra to avoid sending my money where I don't want it to go.
Yes, Tyson is on my boycott list as well.
Drove past a Tyson plant in Arkansas. Parking lot looked like a junk yard.
Nice place to buy food from?? Think Not!
As tight as they are with Bill Clinton, how can any of their products be considered free of antibiotics.
I know a Foster Farms merchandiser. What she has to say about how Tyson's folks conduct their business, well...
...I don't buy Tyson anymore.
I have a friend who works at a company that produces, among other things, “chicken nuggets”.
He explains that the workers take large boxes of frozen chicken parts and dumps them, bones, ice and all, into the choppers/grinders to make those “nuggets”.
If I wanna eat trashy parts of an animal I will boil a pot of pigs feet Filipino style.
Tyson can gold plate their products for all I care. I will never knowingly buy a Tyson product for the rest of my life.
Once in awhile we will get Arkiensa Tyson Chicken parts on sale in large pound bags up here in the PNW.
I will say outloud hmmmmm 60 cents a pound for chicken? It says it is from Arkiensa....right away King Vanity will get tense and start signing NO NO NO you’ll get sick Mom.
(Just seeing if he is alert.heh)
And how come it is a deep yellow color, plus in the far past I have cleaned those parts for cooking and dang I felt like I was elbow deep in fatty tissue.
Not much muscle tissue though.
Best chicken I ever ate (perhaps because I was very hungry) was in the deep southern Islands of the Phillipines and those critters ate the husk/rice that we tossed/cleaned out the window where they lived.
Ultra lean and tender.
Yeah I would eat melamine dog food first before giving Tyson a penny.
j/k but no Tyson in our home either.
RIP RON BROWN
Not to mention what they did to the good American poultry farmers in Virginia.