Tag Archives poultry

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has joined three other advocacy groups and four poultry producers to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update poultry food safety standards. "While progress on reducing foodborne illness has been at a standstill, scientific knowledge of Salmonella has greatly increased and recognized best practices for Campylobacter and other pathogens have advanced. Science tells us that current performance standards do not effectively target the particular types of Salmonella and the levels of bacteria that pose the greatest risks of illness, and the overall regulatory framework does not adequately harness modern tools for preventing and verifying control of the bacteria that are making people sick," the letter to Secretary Tom Vilsack states. "In order to finally make public health progress on Salmonella and Campylobacter illnesses and meet the Healthy People 2030 targets, significant change in the [Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)]…

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…

A California appeals court has declined to revive a lawsuit alleging that packaging for Foster Poultry Farms Inc. products misleads consumers by featuring a certification that the animals are treated humanely. Leining v. Foster Poultry Farms Inc., No. B291600 (Cal. App. Ct., 2nd Dist., entered February 23, 2021). The plaintiff had alleged that she believed the logo to indicate that the animals were treated humanely according to a reasonable consumer's standard rather than according to the industry's standards; the trial court granted Foster Farms summary judgment, finding that the American Humane Association's certification program was "independent, reasonable, and involved some level of expertise." The appeals court found that the plaintiff's causes of action were preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) because the labels were preapproved by the Food Safety and Inspection Service. If the plaintiff "were to prevail on her tort claims that the labels were nonetheless misleading,…

President Biden has withdrawn an executive order that would have allowed 25% faster processing speeds on poultry lines in meatpacking plants. The policy change would have allowed plants to process 175 slaughtered birds per minute, up from 140, in accordance with a proposal by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Criticism of the proposal came from advocacy groups that argued the faster speeds with endanger workers, especially after a study purportedly showed that plants with waivers allowing the faster speeds had higher COVID-19 transmission rates.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has announced that it will amend regulations governing the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP). The amendments "establish a U.S. Newcastle Disease Clean program within the NPIP, create an NPIP subpart specific to game birds, revise testing requirements, and clarify existing provisions of the regulations," according to the announcement. The agency also amends "the regulations concerning the payment of indemnity and compensation for low pathogenic avian influenza to reflect current policy and operational practices, and allowing NPIP voting delegates to represent multiple States during the Biennial Conferences." The changes take effect November 4, 2020.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced the availability of updated guidance on importing meat, poultry and eggs into the United States. According to the announcement, "FSIS revised and reorganized a section on industry supply chain best practices; clarified approaches to levels of reinspection; added information about generic labeling approvals, food defense, slaughter dates on import certification, and barcoding; and made minor editorial changes to improve the guidance's clarity." The announcement also directly responds to several comments received on the 2017 version of the guidance.

Several labor unions and their affiliated international union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), have filed a lawsuit urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to "set aside a waiver program" for exceeding maximum line speeds on the grounds that FSIS adopted the program without adhering to procedures set forth in the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). U. Food & Comm. Workers Union, Local No. 227 v. USDA, No. 20-2045 (D.D.C., filed July 28, 2020). Under a 2014 rule, FSIS allows poultry plants to process birds at a rate of 140 birds per minute, but a 2018 waiver program allowing some plants to process up to 175 birds per minute has granted waivers to "nearly 43 percent of all plants subject to that regulation," according to the complaint. "In adopting the new waiver program, FSIS ignored concerns—raised by plaintiff UFCW and others—that increasing…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a response to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine's petition urging the agency to require meat and poultry processing plants to publish information about COVID-19 testing and infection rates at their facilities and to include on their product labels the statement "Warning: Workers in U.S. meat and poultry processing facilities have been sickened or killed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and this product has not been certified virus-free.” USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service states that it does not have the authority to require facilities to report on the health information of their workers. The agency's response further notes that the proposed warning statement "is misleading because it inaccurately implies that meat and poultry products that have not been 'certified as virus-free' may transmit COVID-19 or are somehow unsafe. As discussed above, public health and food safety experts have found no evidence to…

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has published a scientific opinion on animal welfare considerations during the slaughter of poultry for food. The opinion provides a "comprehensive overview" of "the entire slaughter process from arrival and unloading of birds through stunning to bleeding and killing." The opinion also identifies hazards that "give rise to welfare issues—such as pain, thirst, hunger or restricted movement—and proposes preventive and corrective measures where possible." Many of the identified hazards relate to the lack of training in personnel; the "advice highlights the importance of staff being adequately trained in the different phases of slaughter and for clear identification of roles and responsibilities." The press release notes that EFSA will publish further opinions on animal welfare in slaughter for pigs, cattle and other species in 2020.

Following the August 2019 dismissal of a lawsuit brought by advocacy groups alleging similar facts, a group of consumers has filed a putative class action alleging that Sanderson Farms Inc. misleads consumers by marketing its chicken as “100% Natural.” Lentz v. Sanderson Farms Inc., No. 19-6570 (N.D. Cal., filed October 11, 2019). The complaint alleges that “Sanderson’s advertising misleads consumers in four ways,” including representations that (i) the chickens “were not given antibiotics or other pharmaceuticals,” (ii) the chickens “were raised in a natural environment,” (iii) “there is no evidence that the use of antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals in poultry contributes to the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria” and (iv) the chicken products “do not contain any antibiotic or pharmaceutical residue.” A previous case brought by two advocacy groups was dismissed because of a lack of standing; the court found that the groups could not show sufficient injury because “they were…

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