Food & Water Watch v. United States Department of Agriculture

Plaintiffs include Center For Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, Peter Van Gorder, and Robin Mangini.


Food System

On January 13, 2020, we joined three other plaintiffs in bringing suit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for issuing New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rules that undermine pork-safety inspection in slaughter plants.

“There is no gray area here. The new rules curtail the ability of federal inspectors to detect serious food-safety problems and expose those who consume such pork products to serious health threats like salmonella. It’s easy to read between the lines with these new rules: the USDA is letting the wolf guard the hog-house. Food safety is one of the most important protections in our country and gifting the slaughter industry self-regulation powers will mean pork eaters in this country will be facing higher threats of disease.”

Zach Corrigan, Senior Staff Attorney at Food & Water Watch

Prior federal law required that meat inspectors critically examine every animal for conditions (as dangerous as septicemia and salmonella) before and after slaughter.

The new rules prevent such inspection and hand over these duties to the slaughter companies alone. They also give up federal control over removing contamination from carcasses to the slaughter companies without any minimum training requirements for slaughter-plant employees.

At the same time, the new NSIS rules lifted prior limits on slaughter-line speeds that were in place to prevent foodborne illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths. Even with these line-speed limits, contaminated pork may cause as many as 1.5 million cases of foodborne illnesses, 7,000 hospitalizations, and 200 deaths in the United States each year. 

The potential for even greater harm to public health is clear.

You can read the full filing here. A monthly donation of any amount keeps us going to bat against the agencies that should protect all of us!