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HSUS Files Complaint Against Tyson; Tyson Responds

18 May 2012

US - The Humane Society of the United States filed a legal complaint with the US Securities Exchange Commission asserting that Tyson Foods, Inc., the world’s second-largest meat producer, is making deceptive public statements related to animal welfare.

The HSUS complaint charges that Tyson violated federal securities law with its widely-distributed statements about its policies and practices relating to animal care. Tyson’s statements were made in response to an HSUS undercover investigation at Wyoming Premium Farms, a former supplier of pigs to a Tyson subsidiary, which was released last week.

According to the HSUS, a video from the undercover investigation at Wyoming Premium Farms revealed prolonged suffering of pigs used for breeding, including virtually immobilized animals locked inside two-foot wide gestation crates and abuse of mother pigs and piglets by workers.

Tyson Foods issued a statement in response to the allegations. "We’ve not seen any complaint filed with the SEC so it’s difficult to provide a specific comment. However, we will note that according to a new Humane Watch survey, HSUS appears to be deceiving its donors. The survey of more than 1,000 donors to HSUS, found that 90 per cent were unaware that the organization gives just 1 per cent of its budget to local pet shelters. After learning that the HSUS did not spend a majority of its funds assisting local pet shelters, 80 per cent of the HSUS donors polled believed the group engaged in deceptive fundraising practices," the company said in the statement.

Tyson continued: "As we have previously stated, we are appalled by the mistreatment of the animals shown in the video taken at the Wyoming farm and have discontinued buying animals from the farm. While the video was offensive, the mistreatment shown had nothing to do with gestation crates.

"Let’s also make it clear that Tyson does not own, operate or have any contractual relationship with the Wyoming farm, which is primarily involved in providing feeder pigs to other companies not affiliated with Tyson Foods."

However, according to the HSUS, Tyson's statement "deceptively describes the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus animal welfare program" and that "Tyson claims to audit its suppliers for conformance to the pork industry’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, which has absolutely no mandated or enforceable animal welfare standards to conform to, making meaningful audits under the program impossible."

The HSUS's senior vice president for animal protection litigation, Jonathan Loworn, said: "Tyson is trying to soothe concerned consumers by claiming to follow rigid animal welfare standards that simply do not exist.

"The pork industry’s self-created, anemic quality assurance program that Tyson referenced is an empty shell intended to conceal cruel gestation crate confinement and forestall meaningful animal welfare improvements."

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