Tyson Foods Under Investigation For Alleged Chicken Price-Fixing

Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest poultry processor — and the company behind a dizzying array of packaged foods — revealed this week that federal regulators are investigating allegations of price-fixing.

The company — behind brands like Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farms, and its namesake brand of chicken products — disclosed in a filing [PDF] Monday that it had received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

This subpoena, received on Jan. 20, is likely related to allegations made in a Sept. 2016 lawsuit brought against Tyson and other poultry processors. The plaintiffs in that complaint contend that, starting in 2008, the defendants “conspired and combined to fix, raise, maintain, and stabilize the price” of chicken in violation of federal and state laws.

According to the complaint, the companies “manipulated and artificially inflated the widely used Broiler price index,” and then concealed the actions.

As a result of the allegations, another lawsuit was filed against Tyson in Oct. 2016, accusing the company of including materially false and misleading statement in filings, and failing to disclose that the company had colluded with other producers to manipulate the supply of broiler chickens in order to keep supply artificially low.

Both of the lawsuits seek punitive damages and injunctive relief.

While the company says it has limited information on the SEC’s investigation — believed to be in the early stages — it is cooperating with the agency.

Tyson CEO Tom Hayes declined to provide additional information on the subpoena during a conference call Monday, Reuters reports.

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