US meat giant Tyson Foods has said it is cooperating with a Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into price-fixing in the poultry industry in return for leniency.

In a statement issued yesterday (10 June), Arkansas-based Tyson said it is “fully cooperating with the DoJ as part of its application for leniency under the DoJ’s Corporate Leniency Program. A formal grant of leniency will mean that neither the company nor any of its employees will face criminal fines, jail time or prosecution.”

The statement comes a week after Jayson Penn, the CEO of US poultry heavyweight Pilgrim’s Pride, was indicted along with three other current and former industry executives on charges of seeking to fix chicken prices in the country.

Tyson was served with a grand jury subpoena from the Antitrust Division of the DoJ concerning a criminal antitrust investigation into the broiler chicken industry last April. In its statement yesterday, Tyson said it “uncovered information in connection with that investigation, which we immediately self-reported to the DoJ”.

The company said it had taken “appropriate actions to address the internal issues” and has been fully cooperating with the DoJ.

“Tyson Foods is committed to competing vigorously, honestly and in compliance with the letter and the spirit of the antitrust laws and respects the important role that the Department of Justice plays in enforcing these laws,” it said.

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It added: “Our swift and decisive actions demonstrate our steadfast commitment to treating suppliers, customers and partners with integrity and to fostering a free and fair competitive environment that not only benefits consumers but makes Tyson Foods better.”

Last week’s charges were the first to be brought in the investigation which follows accusations from grocers, other meat firms and consumers that a number of major poultry processors have conspired since 2008 to inflate prices for broiler chickens.