Food Safety Magazine

January 14, 2020

USDA’s New Swine Slaughter Rule Hit By Another Lawsuit

USDA’s New Swine Slaughter Rule Hit By Another Lawsuit

Another lawsuit has been brought against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection, a final rule that became official in October. 

This latest lawsuit was filed by Food & Water Watch, a non-governmental organization group that focuses on corporate and government accountability relating to food, water, and corporate overreach, and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a 501c3, U.S. environmental, non-profit organization. 

Together, Food & Water Watch and CFS are challenging USDA’s overhaul of pork plant inspections, believing that these changes will lead to unsafe meat being sold to consumers.

USDA’s final rule on swine inspection includes changes to processing line speeds, allowing plants to make their own decisions and judgments when setting maximum line speeds. The rule also moves some inspection tasks from USDA inspection workers to pork plant workers instead.

In this excerpt, the lawsuit alleges that the new swine inspection rule will put public health at risk--including not only consumers but pork plant workers as well. 

“Under- or un-trained plant employees are now charged with identifying and notifying government inspectors when swine carcasses show serious diseases such as pork measles, a rare but fatal disease caused by a tapeworm that is transmittable to humans. The rules also preclude inspectors from preventing the release of swine infected with animal diseases, such as Foot-And-Mouth Disease and African Swine Fever, back into the animal supply, thereby substantially increasing the risk of wide-spread mortality and increased prices, threatening the health and welfare of consumers.”

Less than 2 weeks after USDA’s final rule was published to the Federal Register in October, the United Food and Commercial Workers filed a lawsuit against the agency alleging similar claims.

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