WASHINGTON – Animal welfare and environmental advocates filed a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against Tyson Foods Inc. earlier in July. The groups allege that Tyson is fraudulently advertising its chicken products as produced “…in a natural, environmentally responsible and humane way.”

Tyson declined to comment on the matter through a spokeswoman.

Organic Consumers Association (OCA), Animal Equality and Food & Water Watch asked the FTC to investigate and prevent Tyson Foods from making the claims.

“In reality, the practices used by Tyson suppliers, at the direction of Tyson, fall far below the level of animal care and environmental sustainability that a reasonable consumer would expect based on the company’s representations,” the complaint states. “Tyson utilizes the same unnatural, unsustainable, and inhumane National Chicken Council (“NCC”) standards that apply to the overwhelming majority of chickens raised in the United States, but it knowingly leads consumers to believe otherwise.”

Richman Law Group filed the complaint on behalf of the organizations.

“Surveys consistently show that consumers seek meat products free of unnatural substances and produced sustainably and humanely,” said Ronnie Cummins, international director, OCA. “We look to the FTC for oversight and enforcement to protect consumers against deceptive product claims.”

The same groups are behind a false advertising lawsuit currently in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia.

The complaint states that lawsuit “...solely addresses misleading non-label marketing claims regarding environmental sustainability and humane animal treatment, and exclusively addresses products marketed under the Tyson brand name (the “brand name products”).”

The complaint filed with the FTC addresses what the groups say are misleading claims made in the marketing and labeling of Tyson’s NatureRaised product line and the company’s brand name products, in addition to the “natural” representations that Tyson Foods makes regarding its chicken products.