Tyson Foods, the US meat giant, has said it will “voluntarily withdraw” advertising and labels that claim its chicken is made without antibiotics – just weeks after a court ordered them to be scrapped.


The company said last night (2 June) that it had informed the US department of agriculture of the move and had asked the agency to kick off a public process “to bring more clarity and consistency to labeling and advertising rules”.


Dave Hogberg, senior vice president of consumer products at Tyson, said consumers want chicken to be raised without antibiotics.


However, he said clearer rules are needed to protect the “integrity” of Tyson’s label.


“There needs to be more specific labeling and advertising protocols developed to ensure the rules are clear and application of the rules is equitable,” he said.


In April, a federal court in Baltimore ruled that Tyson was “misleading” US consumers by saying that its chicken was “raised without antibiotics”.


The ruling came after a bid from two competitors – Sanderson Farms and Perdue Farms – to stop the ads. Both companies claimed they had lost millions of dollars in sales.


The court said that Tyson was using ionophores – an approved antibiotic – in chicken feed and injecting other antibiotics into chicken eggs in the run-up to hatching.


Last year, the USDA said Tyson could label chicken as “raised without antibiotics”.


However, the agency later reversed that decision after Tyson started marketing the products due to the presence of the ionophores.


The company was eventually allowed to say its products are “raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans” – until the Baltimore ruling in April.