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SPRINGDALE, Ark. -- Tyson Foods, Inc. has won a court victory over several poultry industry competitors seeking to disrupt the company's retail chicken advertising program.
Sanderson Farms, Foster Farms, and Perdue Farms filed a motion Friday for a temporary restraining order prohibiting Tyson from continuing its "Raised Without Antibiotics" chicken-marketing program. They claimed the program, which is in the midst of a transition, contains incorrect information.
However, Judge Catherine Blake of U.S. District Court in Baltimore denied the competitors' motion, indicating that they failed to provide sufficient evidence to support their case. She also noted Tyson worked cooperatively with USDA to reach an agreement about modifying the company's original Raised Without Antibiotics program, allowing the company to transition in an "orderly fashion."
"The court's decision to reject our competitors' request strengthens our conviction we have acted properly in the way we've handled our marketing program," said Dave Hogberg, s.v.p. of consumer products for Tyson Foods. "The decision also confirms our competitors have not demonstrated they have suffered any irreparable harm from our advertising, which was properly created and placed under our original USDA label approval."
Tyson announced in December that the company and USDA had agreed to new, more informative labeling for the company's Raised Without Antibiotics chicken program. The new label will include the following language: "Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans." The company has been in the process of transitioning its labeling and marketing materials to reflect this change.
As noted in court filings, Tyson made plans to change its advertising before ever being notified of concerns from its competitors. Further, Tyson said that the television ads in question stopped airing before the competing companies even brought this matter to court.
Tyson currently expects to start using its new advertising and promotional materials in February.