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The U.S. Department of Agriculture is accepting comments on proposed changes to organic standards for livestock and poultry production. Issues addressed in the proposed changes include livestock health care practices, living conditions, transport and slaughter. The many proposed changes include a limit on the types of physical alterations permissible in organic livestock production, such as needle teeth clipping and tail docking in pigs, and the establishment of a distinction between requirements for mammalian living conditions and avian living conditions based on different physiological needs. Comments will be accepted until October 11, 2022.

The National Pork Producers Council and a group of organizations representing restaurants and hotels in New England have filed a lawsuit aiming to enjoin Massachusetts from enforcing a law set to take effect August 15, 2022, banning the sale of pork produced from animals "that the business owner or operator knows or should know is the meat of a covered animal that was confined in a cruel manner, or is the meat of the immediate offspring of a covered animal that was confined in a cruel manner." Mass. Restaurant Ass'n v. Healey, No. 22-11245 (D. Mass., filed August 3, 2022). The complaint urges the court to prevent enforcement until after the U.S. Supreme Court has reviewed a Commerce Clause challenge to a "materially identical California statute." The Massachusetts Pork Rule and California's Proposition 12 ban "the sale of pork born to a sow confined in a way that prevents her…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it has "made a low-risk determination for the marketing of products, including food, from two genome-edited beef cattle and their offspring." The agency determined that the product does not raise any safety concerns and that the product developer is not expected to pursue FDA approval before marketing the product, which is produced from cattle with an intentional genomic alteration (IGA) ensuring a short-hair coat. "To date, the FDA has made low-risk determinations for enforcement discretion for many other IGAs in animals for non-food uses and also has approved applications for five IGAs: in groups of goat, chicken, salmon, rabbit and, most recently, in a line of pigs," the announcement notes. “Today’s decision underscores our commitment to using a risk and science-based, data-driven process that focuses on safety to the animals containing intentional genomic alterations and safety to the people who eat…

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld several complaints against Oatly UK Ltd. arguing that the company's advertisements misled consumers into believing the product is more environmentally friendly than the production processes actually are. The ads cited several statistics on the greenhouse gases generated by the dairy and livestock industries and asserted Oatly's production generated fewer emissions. ASA found that the statistics were presented in ways that consumers would be likely to misunderstand, such as the assertion that "Oatly generates 73% less CO2e vs. milk," which applied specifically to whole milk and not the broader milk category. The one complaint that was not upheld was the assertion that “If everyone in the world adopted a vegan diet, it would reduce food’s annual greenhouse emissions by 6.6bn metric tons (a 49% reduction)” because ASA found sufficient evidence to support the statement.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has requested comments on "the labeling of meat and poultry products comprised of or containing cultured cells derived from animals subject to the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act." Comments will be accepted until November 2, 2021. The announcement details the U.S. Cattlemen's Association's 2018 petition urging the agency to "limit the definition of 'beef' to products derived from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, and thereby prohibit foods comprised of or containing cultured animal cells from being labeled as 'beef.'” In response to the petition, the agency received more than 6,000 comments "from trade associations, consumer advocacy groups, businesses operating in the meat, poultry, and cultured food product markets, and consumers," the announcement states. "Most comments opposed the petition overall; however, nearly all generally agreed that cultured meat and beef should be labeled in a manner that…

A Russian cybercriminal group known as a "ransomware as a service" organization attacked JBS SA, the world's largest meat processor, according to the FBI. The attack led several of the company's meat processing plants to halt production for several days. While JBS is "the largest food manufacturer yet to be hit by ransomware," according to the Associated Press, "at least 40 food companies have been targeted by ransomware gangs over the last year." A cybersecurity expert reportedly told the news outlet that food companies are at "about the same level of security as manufacturing and shipping. Which is to say, not very.”

Food website Epicurious has announced that it will stop posting new recipes containing beef to avoid "giving airtime to one of the world’s worst climate offenders." As the Washington Post noted, "Reaction was swift and illustrated the meaning of the metaphor about tossing red meat to a crowd. Some praised the decision, noting that tastes have changed and that readers are looking for more plant-based, less meaty dishes. Others slammed Epicurious for 'canceling' beef." The North American Meat Institute commented, suggesting that the reduction in beef recipes will correspond with a reduction in web traffic, according to the New York Times. Others reportedly questioned the effectiveness of the move in achieving its stated goal, with the founder of Food Tank telling the Post that the move is "short-sighted" because options exist for sustainable beef production. "While beef consumption in the U.S. is significantly down from where it was 30 years ago, it…

A Minnesota federal court has ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) when it adopted the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS), which eliminated line speed limits for pork processing. United Food & Com. Workers Union, Local 663 v. USDA, No. 19-2660 (D. Minn., entered March 31, 2021). The court found that the final rule establishing the NSIS "contains no discussion, analysis, or evaluation of the worker safety comments" that it received during the notice-and-comment period. "The only response FSIS gave to the worker safety comments it solicited was to state that it lacked authority to regulate worker safety. In context, the agency appeared to suggest that it wanted to consider the comments but was not legally permitted to do so," the court held. "By offering its lack of legal authority and expertise on worker safety as its only…

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) have reintroduced the Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act "to protect worker, consumer, and animal safety by suspending all current and future [U.S. Department of Agriculture] waivers and regulations that allow companies to increase production line speeds at meatpacking plants during the COVID-19 pandemic," according to a press release. The act would suspend all speed waivers for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration as well as suspending implementation of the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System. “The ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at meat plants over the last year have raised serious questions about the safety conditions inside these plants," DeLauro is quoted as saying. "Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, these workers experienced injuries at a higher rate than comparable occupations. And now, faster line speeds make it impossible for workers to practice social distancing and…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) inspector general will reportedly review how the agency handled inspections during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Washington Post. The probe will review how the Food Safety and Inspection Service spent $33 million in extra funding provided by Congress in March 2020, including what precautions were taken to protect the health of inspectors. The probe comes amid elevated scrutiny on how meatpacking plants have handled the pandemic, including lawsuits targeting meat companies. A Nebraska court dismissed a lawsuit brought by former employees of a Noah's Ark Processors plant alleging the company failed to implement proper precautions to stop the spread of the virus, holding that the employees lacked standing because they no longer work at the plant. Alma v. Noah's Ark Processors LLC, No. 20-3141 (D. Neb., entered March 1, 2021).

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