Court Throws Out Bid to Block New Poultry Inspection Rules

US - A bid to block new poultry inspection regulations and practices in the US has been thrown out by a US district court.
calendar icon 11 February 2015
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Campaigning group Food and Water Watch and two other people called for an injunction on the new rules being brought in by the USDA, claiming they would lead to unsafe products coming to the market.

They maintained that the new rules breeched the Poultry Products Inspection Act that requires the United States Department of Agriculture to protect consumer health and welfare by ensuring that poultry products are wholesome and not adulterated.

The new rules, under the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection, reduce the number of poultry meat inspectors on the processing line and allows poultry processing companies to play a more active role in the inspection process.

Under the new National Poultry Inspection System, far fewer federal inspectors need be stationed along the slaughter lines, and the employees themselves can conduct a preliminary screening of the carcasses before presenting the poultry to a federal inspector for a visual-only inspection.

Food and Water Watch and the two consumers sought to file an instant action accompanied by a motion for a preliminary injunction against the USDA, and its secretary, the Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, the FSIS and the administrator of FSIS, because they said the new rules will result in the production of unsafe poultry products.

However, the District Court for the District of Columbia has thrown the case out because it said: “While this Court has no doubt about the sincerity of Plaintiffs’ belief that the regulation adopting the NPIS is a bad rule that will lead to unwholesome poultry products, the Court is also fully cognizant of its limited power to address Plaintiffs’ concerns.”

It added: “Because Plaintiffs have filed this suit in a court of limited jurisdiction, they must demonstrate at the outset that they have, or will have, an injury-in-fact that is traceable to the actions of the Defendants and that relief from this Court can address.

“This Court concludes that Plaintiffs have failed to mount this hurdle.

“Whatever the merits of the allegation that the new poultry-processing regulation is a policy that the USDA should never have adopted, this Court finds that such “injury” is precisely the type of generalized grievance that Article III courts are not empowered to consider.

“Consequently, Plaintiffs do not have standing to bring this lawsuit and the instant case must be DISMISSED in its entirety for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”

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