According to news sources, litigation has been filed in California challenging a new law that prohibits the sale or distribution of food from nonambulatory livestock. One of the suits, filed in late December 2008 by the National Meat Association, claims that the state’s hog industry should be exempt. An association spokesperson reportedly indicated that “hog fatigue” causes hogs to lie down occasionally, but that nothing is wrong with these animals.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) filed a motion to intervene, arguing that the law as a whole is preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act. An AMI press release notes, “on some occasions all species can become injured even until the last minutes before processing, but an injury like a broken ankle does not automatically make livestock unfit for consumption.”

The California law (A.B. 2098), effective January 1, 2009, amended the state penal code by proscribing any slaughterhouse use of non-ambulatory animals. The bill’s sponsor called the industry groups challenging the law “extreme and irresponsible,” saying, “They believe they have the right to process diseased and disabled animals and they feel the state of California does not have the right to protect consumers.” A hearing on the matter will apparently be held in a federal court in Fresno some time in January. See American Meat Institute Press Release, December 24, 2008; PressEnterprise, January 7, 2009.

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