A California federal court has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Sanderson Farms Inc. misleads consumers about the presence of antibiotics in its chickens. Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms Inc., No. 17-3592 (N.D. Cal., entered December 3, 2018). The plaintiffs—several advocacy groups—assert that Sanderson's marketing misleads consumers into believing that its chickens are raised without antibiotics, while Sanderson argues that its labeling, advertisements and website communicate to consumers that the chicken products they purchase do not contain antibiotics. "Sanderson argues its infographic on its '100% Natural' webpage contains only true statements: it shows what ingredients are not added to the chicken and says nothing about antibiotic use or nonuse," the court stated. "Defendant appears to make an expressio unius argument: that because antibiotics are not included in the list of excluded artificial ingredients, a reasonable consumer could not conclude that antibiotics are also excluded. As…
The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has filed a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed to act on the organization's 2014 petition seeking certification for labeling claims about animal welfare and environmental stewardship during the meat and poultry production process. Animal Welfare Inst. v. USDA, No. 18-2621 (D.D.C., filed November 14, 2018). AWI's petition asserted that meat and poultry producers market food products as "humanely raised," made with "sustainable agricultural products," "raised in a stress free environment" and other similar claims despite allegedly exposing animals to "intensive confinement, barren and stressful housing conditions, and painful mutilations in order to increase production." AWI argues for the establishment of a certification program to verify marketing claims about animal welfare. According the complaint, USDA has not yet taken action on AWI's petition, allegedly resulting in an "unreasonable delay" in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
U.K. and U.S. researchers have published a study on "a market-based approach of taxing red and processed meat according to its health impacts." Springmann et al., "Health-motivated taxes on red and processed meat: A modelling study on optimal tax levels and associated health impacts," PLOS One, November 6, 2018. The researchers predict that meat-related health care costs will amount to $285 billion in 2020, and they created a model to determine what level of tax or pricing change would account for the associated costs. They purportedly determined that doubling the price of processed meats and raising the price of red meat by about 20 percent would result in enough revenue to account for costs of the reduced consumption rates that would be associated with a rise in price. “I hope that governments will consider introducing a health levy on red and processed meat as part of a range of measures…
A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that he contracted Salmonella from beef supplied to a restaurant by JBS Tolleson Inc. Rozich v. JBS Tolleson Inc., No. 18-1929 (D. Nev., filed October 8, 2018). The plaintiff alleges his infection stemmed from an outbreak of Salmonella that resulted in JBS recalling nearly seven million pounds of beef on October 4, 2018. The complaint cites a July 2017 notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service purportedly alleging a JBS facility president enabled “‘egregious’ and ‘inhumane’ practices with livestock.” The plaintiff seeks damages and costs for allegations of strict product liability, negligence and breach of warranty.
A Colorado federal court has dismissed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC's) lawsuit alleging JBS USA discriminated against Muslim workers by denying prayer breaks. EEOC v. JBS USA, No. 10-2103 (D. Colo., entered September 24, 2018). The court found that EEOC failed to prove that JBS suspended or fired the workers in an effort to deny requested religious accommodations. A Nebraska court dismissed similar claims against the company in October 2013.
The New York Times has reported on the Orthodox Union's efforts to determine whether meat grown in a lab from animal cells can be kosher. The reporter follows a rabbi tasked with researching the process. The rabbi distinguishes between products grown from muscle cells—which must be from an animal properly slaughtered in kosher standards rather than still alive—and products potentially grown from animal saliva or hair, which are reportedly under research. The latter products would not be considered meat under Jewish law, the New York Times notes. “The identity of a given cell, and ensuring that its identity is preserved and verifiable, would be crucial to our being able to certify a product,” the report quotes the rabbi as saying.
A New York federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging that Dunkin' Brands Inc. misled consumers by marketing a sandwich and a wrap as containing "Angus steak." Chen v. Dunkin' Brands, Inc., No. 17-3808 (E.D.N.Y., entered September 17, 2018). The court first dismissed the claims brought by a non-resident of New York, finding it did not have jurisdiction to consider them. The court also dismissed the resident plaintiff's breach-of-warranty allegation under the Magnuson-Moss Act, holding that the description "Angus beef" is "'at most' a 'product description,' not a written warranty." Turning to the state-law claim of deceptive practices, the court disagreed with the plaintiff's argument that a reasonable consumer would interpret "Angus steak" as "an intact cut of meat," finding that the television commercials show "zoomed-in pictures of the sandwich and wrap, with ground-meat patties." The plaintiff also asserted that the beef patties contained additives and preservatives, which…
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed Rep. Vern Buchanan's (R-Fla.) Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018, a bill that would prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for the purpose of human consumption. The bill would also prohibit the knowing sale or donation of a dog or cat to a person who would slaughter it for consumption. The bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reportedly found that one-fifth of meat samples tested contained DNA not attributable to the animal source indicated on the label. FSA conducted 665 tests from 487 businesses suspected of "compliance issues," including restaurants and supermarkets, and purportedly found that some samples contained DNA from as many as four animals. The products included mincemeat, sausages, kebabs and curries. An FSA spokesperson reportedly told BBC that the results were "not representative of the wider food industry."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced a joint public meeting to discuss "the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry." The meeting, which will be held October 23-24, 2018, will focus on "the potential hazards, oversight considerations, and labeling" of the product category. Following a conference hosted by the Good Food Institute, cell-based meat brand representatives reportedly agreed to "abandon the term 'clean meat' in favor of cell-based meat." "We discussed the pros and cons of the term 'clean meat,' and decided to shift our label to 'cell-based meat,'" a conference attendee reportedly told Food Navigator. "Traditional meat companies can be our biggest ally if they want to work with us. We can help them transition from industrial animal agriculture to cell-based meat. Cell-based meat is a better label to bring them on board."