(CNN) – The US government, as part of a survey of the chicken industry, is trying to intervene in a price-based lawsuit directed against the country's largest poultry producers.
The Ministry of Justice had reported Tyson in April that it summoned a large jury and sentenced the company to provide evidence. On Friday, departmental lawyers asked a judge to stop the evidence collection in the case for six months to ensure the integrity of the large jury's investigation. The Justice Department, in its trial on Friday, said it was pursuing a probe similar to civil complaint.
The underlying case was brought in September 2016 by Maplevale Farms, a New York food service distributor.
According to his complaint, Maplevale claims that 28 chicken companies "conspired and combined to fix, raise, maintain and stabilize the price of broilers," the main type of chickens raised for production in the United States. Maplevale claims that the chicken producers coordinated production and limited chicken production with the aim of increasing prices.
The movement was reported previously by the Food and Environment Reporting Network and the Wall Street Journal.
Walmart broke down last month, suing many of the same poultry companies. Walmart accused the chicken companies of killing hatchlings to raise prices and ramp up production when prices reached a level they were happy with. It is unclear under what law Walmart is resistant. Tyson, Pilgrim's Pride, Sanderson and Perdue collectively control 51% of the chicken industry, according to Watt Poultry USA, a poultry industry publication.
In a statement Tyson said Tuesday that the Ministry of Justice's request to intervene in Maplevale Farms "does not change our view that there is no benefit to the claims that Tyson Foods collaborate with competitors. We are committed to defending ourselves against these unfounded charges. "  Sanderson said it "continues to believe civil prosecutors' claim that Sanderson Farms is completely unprofitable and we are committed to defending the case strongly." Pilgrim's pride said it "strongly denies any competition contest [and]] rejoices in the opportunity to defend against these claims through the legal process."
The Ministry of Justice refused to comment. Perdue refused to comment.
– CNN Business & # 39; Danielle Wiener-Bronner contributed to this report.