Tag Archives poultry

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…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a number of developments in their work on organic food, poultry and food safety. FDA released an update on the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), announcing it will track outcomes for FSMA rules for inspections and recalls via the Food Safety Dashboard. One metric the agency will track is how quickly a company issues a public notice for a Class 1 recall for human and animal food. FDA has also released guidance on recall plans for its multipart guidance on “how to comply with the requirements for hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls under our rule entitled ‘Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food.’” USDA updated the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) Program Standards to incorporate proposed changes published in April 2019, including the amendment of the testing…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Trader Joe's Co. sells raw poultry products that contain more retained water than indicated on the package. Webb v. Trader Joe's Co., No. 19-1587 (S.D. Cal., removed August 23, 2019). The complaint alleges that the retained water in some packaged poultry was found to be as much as 16% but labeled as a maximum of 5%. "Poultry products are sold by weight," the plaintiff argues. "Excess Retained Water in the product unlawfully increases the price the consumer pays and decreases the value of the product, cheating the consumer." The plaintiff asserts eight causes of action, including theft by false pretenses and unjust enrichment, and seeks class certification, restitution and damages.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released guidance on meal kits requiring inspection by the agency's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The guidance indicates that meal kits do not require assembly subject to FSIS inspection if (i) the "meat or poultry component is prepared and separately packaged under FSIS inspection and labeled with all required features"; (ii) the "outer kit label identifies all of the individual components in the kit"; and (iii) the "outer kit label clearly identifies the product as a single unit or 'kit,' such as 'Chicken BBQ Dinner Kit' and 'Beef Lasagna Meal.'"

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will accept comments on proposed changes to the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) Program Standards until May 13, 2019. Changes include an amended testing protocol for Mycoplasma, amended Salmonella isolation procedures and updated cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking to identify the poultry-production plants associated with an outbreak of Salmonella. CSPI requested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) deliver information on the "name, address, establishment number, and date of positive sample(s)" for poultry products that "tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Infantis" in raw chicken and "Salmonella Reading" in raw turkey. "In addition to granting the current FOIA request, which may be done by delivering the data to CSPI directly or posting it on the USDA website, CSPI also requests that the USDA develop a practice for reporting this information publicly in all similar multi-source outbreaks moving forward," the request states.

The Organic Consumers Association and Food & Water Watch Inc. have filed a lawsuit alleging that Pilgrim's Pride Corp. misrepresents the conditions in which it raises its chickens. Food & Water Watch Inc. v. Pilgrim's Pride Corp. (D.C. Super. Ct., filed February 4, 2019). The complaint alleges that "Pilgrim's Pride systematically raises, transports, and slaughters chickens in inhumane factory-farm conditions," including "the routine use of antibiotics," "crowding," "the use of toxic chemicals," "the use of artificially selected fast-growing, breast-heavy chicken breeds," and "the abuse of chickens by Pilgrim's Pride contractors and employees." The organizations focus on Pilgrim's Pride's representations that its chickens are fed "only natural ingredients" and are not fed "growth hormones of any kind" as well as its assertions that the company "strongly supports the humane treatment of animals." The advocacy groups allege that Pilgrim's Pride has violated the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act and seek…

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.

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