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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a press release responding to The Washington Post's reporting on an impending change to pork plant inspections. "FSIS is appalled at The Washington Post’s poor attempt at explaining a proposal to modernize inspection," the press release states. "The Post’s decision to continue to parrot arguments that are devoid of factual and scientific evidence only serves to further the personal agenda of special interest groups that have nothing to do with ensuring food safety. Despite FSIS spending countless hours responding to The Post and providing clarification about the proposed rule, The Post chose to ignore the information and went with an already formed opinion and headline." FSIS argues that the article was "deliberately misleading" on several points and lists 11 rebuttals for statements made in the Post article, including the assertion that the pork industry "soon will…

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…

A D.C. court has granted summary judgment in favor of Hormel Foods Corp. in a lawsuit alleging that the company misleads consumers into believing that its products "are from animals that are humanely raised and not 'factory-farmed' and that its products do not contain preservatives or nitrites that are not from natural sources." Animal Legal Defense Fund v. Hormel Foods Corp., No. 2016 CA 004744 (D.C. Super. Ct., entered April 8, 2019). The court held that the Animal Legal Defense Fund's (ALDF's) claims were preempted, finding that applying the Washington, D.C., consumer-protection statute "to prohibit the use of terms that [the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)] approved would stand as an obstacle to the accomplishment of Congress' purposes for consistent regulation of labeling meat and poultry products." "Federal law regulates labeling so that consumers can use labels as the authoritative source of information about a product's ingredients, and if a…

The meat industry is moving towards self-regulation for identifying diseased animals, an article in The Washington Post asserts. The article documents a series of changes shifting responsibility for identifying contamination in meat production, especially pork and poultry, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to employees of the regulated production plants. The Post spoke to a former hog inspector who worked under the trial program for testing the proposed system. “I saw the alleged inspections that were performed by plant workers; they weren’t inspections. They were supposed to meet or exceed USDA standards — I never saw that happen,” the Post quotes him as saying. USDA also states that plants participating in the trial program had fewer worker injuries, but Texas State University researchers reportedly found it “impossible” for the agency “to draw any statistically valid conclusion about worker injury rate differences” based on data the researchers obtained through a…

The EU agriculture committee has reportedly approved a prohibition on the use of the term “meat” to describe vegetable-based products, including bean burgers, vegan sausages and tofu steaks. The provision would limit the use of “steak,” “sausage,” “burger,” “hamburger” and “escalope” to only describe “edible parts of the animals.” One French politician reportedly described the bill as beneficial for consumers. “We felt that steak should be kept for real steak with meat and come up with a new moniker for all these new products. There is a lot to be done in this front, a lot of creativity will be needed,” The Guardian quotes Member of the European Parliament Éric Andrieu as saying. “People need to know what they are eating. So people who want to eat less meat know what they are eating – people know what is on their plate.” Before the provision can take effect, the full…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced "a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry." The agreement "describes the oversight roles and responsibilities for both agencies and how the agencies will collaborate to regulate the development and entry of these products into commerce," according to a press release. "This shared regulatory approach will ensure that cell-cultured products derived from the cell lines of livestock and poultry are produced safely and are accurately labeled."

The European Court of Justice's Grand Chamber has ruled that halal beef cannot carry an EU organic logo if the cows were not stunned before they were slaughtered. Œuvre d’assistance aux bêtes d’abattoirs v. Ministre de l’Agriculture et de l’Alimentation, No. C-497/17 (E.C.J., entered February 26, 2019). The court compared an organic-labeling regulation requiring efforts to preserve animal welfare during the slaughtering process with a regulation allowing religious rituals during slaughter. "While it is true that [the regulation] permits the practice of ritual slaughter as part of which an animal may be killed without first being stunned, that form of slaughter, which is authorised only by way of derogation in the European Union and solely in order to ensure observance of the freedom of religion [], is insufficient to remove all of the animal’s pain, distress and suffering as effectively as slaughter with pre-stunning, which, in accordance with [the regulation],…

A California federal court has sided with In-N-Out Burgers in a lawsuit challenging whether Smashburger's Triple Double hamburger has "double the beef." In-N-Out Burgers v. Smashburger IP Holder LLC, No. 17-1474 (C.D. Cal., entered February 6, 2019). Smashburger's Triple Double, advertised as "double the beef," contains the same amount of beef as Smashburger's classic burger—five ounces—but the beef is split into two patties instead of one. The complaint alleged that Smashburger's "deceptive" advertising was likely to harm In-N-Out if consumers chose Smashburger's products over In-N-Out's based on inaccurate marketing. "[T]he claim that the Triple Double burger contains 'double the beef' as compared to the Classic Smash burger is literally false on its face," the court found. "The phrase 'double the beef in every bite' unambiguously refers to the amount of beef in the burger, rather than the number of layers of beef." The court dismissed Smashburger's argument that the "double…

The New York Times has published an update on proposed state laws defining "meat" as an animal-derived product. In addition to Missouri's existing law, several state legislatures—including Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska and Washington—will be considering statutes that would prevent purveyors of plant-based or lab-grown meat-replacement products from using the term "meat" on their labels. The policy director of the Good Food Institute, which is alleging that Missouri's definition violates the First Amendment, reportedly told the Times that she believes the issue will be moot after the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides guidance.

Nebraska State Sen. Carol Blood has reintroduced her bill to define "meat" as a product derived from animals following a withdrawal of her previous bill. The updated proposal would define meat as "any edible portion of any livestock or poultry carcass or part thereof and does not include insect-based, plant-based, or lab-grown food products." The bill would also include advertising or selling "an insect-based, a plant-based, or a lab-grown food product as meat" as a deceptive trade practice.

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