A federal judge has rejected a federal lawsuit filed in September 2014 that urges the government to abandon its new poultry inspection rules. The primary plaintiff, Food & Water Watch, alleged the new poultry inspection rules would turn over key food safety inspection functions to poultry companies and would limit oversight by USDA inspectors.
In a detailed, 55-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson concluded Food & Water Watch lacked the legal standing to challenge the new rules issued by the Agriculture Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), McClatchy reported.
The new rules give poultry plant operators a more active role in the inspection process. Obama administration officials say this is efficient. Critics say it’s giving the too much control to processors.
“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’ precisely the type of generalized grievance that Article III courts are not empowered to consider,” Jackson wrote in the court decision dated February 9.
The New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) was approved in 2014 following years of study. NPIS requires poultry companies to take measures to prevent Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, rather than addressing contamination after it occurs. It also requires for the first time that all poultry facilities perform their own microbiological testing at two points in their production process to show they are controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter. These requirements are in addition to testing from FSIS. FSIS estimates that the new rules will prevent up to 5,000 foodborne illnesses each year.