US meat processor Tyson Foods has said it will resist an attempt by the Oklahoma attorney general to depose its chairman, John Tyson.

Tyson is one of 13 Arkansas-based corporations currently undergoing legal action brought by the Oklahoma attorney general Drew Edmondson for allegedly polluting the Illinois River with bird waste.

In a three-year long court case, Edmondson has argued that pollution caused by poultry litter poses a threat to human health.

“The attorney general’s request to depose John Tyson is simply harassment and totally unnecessary. We have already been giving the attorney general access to the information and company representatives directly involved in the issues relating this case,” a spokesperson for the company told just-food today (21 April).
Tyson had previously filed a motion to depose the Edmondson over his claims of a connection between a 2008 e. coli outbreak and poultry litter. The court rejected this proposal and deemed Edmondson’s comments on the outbreak irrelevant to the case, Tyson said.

“As previously reported, the location of the outbreak is not in the watershed that is the subject of the lawsuit and, contrary to the attorney general’s claims, the Oklahoma Department of Health concluded poultry litter was not the source of the outbreak,” the company spokesperson said.

The spokesperson emphasised the company’s position, stating: “No laws have been broken. None of the poultry companies or the farmers who raise chickens and turkeys in Oklahoma or Arkansas, have been accused by environmental regulators of pollution in the application of poultry litter as organic fertilizer.
“After three years of litigation and spending US$25m, Edmondson has failed to come forward with any evidence poultry producers are in violation of state regulations.”