Consumers have been misled, claim two consumer advocacy groups who have sued Tyson Foods, Inc., over the meat packer’s sustainability and environmental practices. Because consumers value animal welfare and sustainability, the suit alleges Tyson is able to sell its products at a premium by claiming that it adheres to both principles.
Food & Water Watch Inc. (FWW) and the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) accuse Tyson of false advertising, as the company uses its website, social media accounts and other avenues to portray its employees as "stewards of the animals" who are dedicated "to environmental leadership" and "protecting the planet." In reality, the two nonprofits claim, Tyson's business practices make a mockery of those professed values.
The filing on July 10, in a Washington, D.C., Superior Court, seeks "no monetary damages, only an end to the deceptive marketing and advertising at issue." The 61-page suit describes in detail alleged environmental and animal welfare violations, which the nonprofits say have been ongoing for more than a decade, and claims Tyson is the “second largest polluter” in the U.S. and routinely allows the “horrific abuse” of its chickens.
In addition to Tyson’s plants regularly violating federal environmental laws and polluting “air and waterways at staggering levels,” the non-profits leveled specific charges about chickens in the suit. The two allege that Tyson raises chickens in a manner that turns their lives into a sadistic gauntlet of “debilitating deformities,” disease and cramped spaces that ends with many birds "flapping their wings" as they enter "the scalding tank to boil alive."
While the company’s advertising and social media posts show otherwise, the non-profits said, “Tyson fails even to comply with the bare minimum requirements set by federal regulations, national industry standards and its own company policies."
"Tyson should live up to the claims it makes, or stop making them," said Ronnie Cummins, co-founder and international director of the OCA, in a statement.
FWW and OCA filed a similar suit against Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. in February and a mediation process has been underway in that case for months.