(NaturalNews) Tyson Foods Inc., the Springdale, Arkansas-based meat processor, announced plans to shut down three factories, in Iowa, New York and New Mexico, eliminating jobs for nearly one thousand people.
All three of the factories produce processed meats like hot dogs, sausage and bacon, and are the largest employers in their communities. The closures are reportedly due to a change in consumer needs, as well as being too far of a distance from the factory's raw material supplies.
Earlier this month, Tyson signed a $7.75 billion deal to buy Hillshire Brands Co., the maker of Jimmy Dean sausages and Ball Park hot dogs. The company plans to sell its poultry businesses in Mexico and Brazil for $575 million, in order to help pay debt from its newly acquired purchase, which Tyson maintains has nothing to do with its latest factory closings.
The costs of shipping have mounted, said the company, and the Cherokee, Iowa, factory, built in 1965, is too old to renovate. Tyson is the second largest employer in the Northwest Iowa city, which is home to about 6,000 residents. The plant is expected to close its doors on Sept. 27, leaving 450 employees looking for work.
Some reports are blaming a decrease in cattle, linking their reduced numbers to severe droughts; however, others are speculating that the factory closures could be linked to a consumer base less interested in purchasing meat treated with hormones and antibiotics. Tyson's deceptive campaign
Tyson, responsible for creating the "McNugget," currently does not offer organic meat; however, the corporation tried to deceive consumers in the past by labeling chicken as "antibiotic-free" when in reality it wasn't.
In 2008, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) asked the second largest producer of chicken to stop using the antibiotic-free label because of the company's use of bacteria-killing ionophores, which are used on the birds' feed. Tyson twists the truth by claiming ionophores are antimicrobials, not antibiotics
The corporation refused, arguing that ionophores are antimicrobials rather than antibiotics, and are not used on human patients. A compromise was reached after Tyson agreed to use a label reading "raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans."
However, soon after, USDA inspectors discovered that Tyson was injecting chicken eggs with gentamicin, an antibiotic that's been used for decades, and claiming the meat "antibiotic-free."
Still the company rejected the government's orders and filed a lawsuit against the USDA arguing that the agency had illegally changed the definition of "raised without antibiotics" to include eggs.
According to Tyson, since the injections are performed before the chicken hatches, the birds are technically "raised without antibiotics," in other words, just another corporate loophole.
Tyson was ordered to dismantle their national multimillion-dollar ad campaign that falsely advertised antibiotic-free chicken in a mere two weeks. The task involved removing posters and brochures from more than 8,500 stores nationwide, according to The Washington Post.
The billions of dollars dumped into ad campaigns by corporations like Tyson has failed in quieting America's demand for organic food. Around 80 percent of American families reported purchasing organic food at least sometimes, according to a 2012 estimate from the Organic Trade Association.
Additionally, "domestic organic food production has increased about 240% between 2002 and 2011, compared with 3% in the non-organic food market," as reported by Food Navigator-USA.
Natural and organic retail sales reached more than $80 billion in 2012, an increase of nearly 14 percent from the year before.