The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has filed an Administrative Procedure Act lawsuit seeking to compel the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to respond to the organization’s petition urging the agency to regulate feces as an adulterant under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Physicians Comm. for Responsible Med. v. USDA, No. 19-1069 (D.D.C., filed April 16, 2019). Physicians Committee’s 2013 petition “asserted that meat and chicken that is contaminated with feces regularly passes USDA inspection,” according to the complaint.

“The risk of fecal contamination has increased in the six years since the Physicians Committee petitioned USDA,” the organization argues. Under the system implemented in 2014, one USDA inspector is assigned to a slaughter line, apparently correlating with higher failure rates for Salmonella—”a bacteria found in feces”—during inspections.

“Despite the passage of six years, USDA has not shared its determinations regarding the actions requested by the Physicians Committee in the petition,” the organization argues. “This has made it more difficult and costly for the Physicians Committee to achieve its organizational objective of protecting its members and the public from the negative health effects of consuming harmful products. USDA has deprived Physicians Committee of valuable information concerning the reasons and justifications for failing to carry out the actions requested in the petition, thereby requiring the Physicians Committee to expend additional resources monitoring fecal contamination in meat and poultry products and sharing its findings with the public.”

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