"Judge To Weigh Tyson Deal Over 'Antibiotic-Free' Chicken"

"Consumers who thought they were buying antibiotic-free chicken could receive $5 million in cash and coupons under a proposed settlement to a lawsuit contending that the nation's largest poultry producer falsely promoted its birds as being raised without drugs.

The deal to end a class action lawsuit against Tyson Foods will get its first public hearing Friday, when a federal judge in Baltimore is scheduled to review it for fairness. If approved, thousands of U.S. consumers could receive refunds of up to $50 per household.

'While we believe our company acted appropriately, we also believe it makes sense for us to resolve this legal matter and move on,' Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in an e-mailed statement. The Arkansas company denies any wrongdoing under the deal, outlined in a U.S. District Court filing late Tuesday.

Numerous consumer lawsuits were filed across the country in 2008, and later consolidated in Baltimore, alleging that Tyson lied about the drugs that go into its birds, a hotly debated issue within the poultry and health care industries."

Tricia Bishop reports for the Baltimore Sun January 14, 2010.

Friday, January 15, 2010