Washington, D.C. – Today, the advocacy organization Food & Water Watch filed notice that it would ask a federal appeals court to overturn a lower court’s decision earlier in the week that ruled it lacked jurisdiction to stop the implementation of the USDA’s New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) rules. These rules turn over key food safety inspection functions to poultry companies with limited oversight by government inspectors.
“The program allowing the poultry industry to police itself is simply not allowed under law, which is designed to protect consumers,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “We are still hopeful that a court will review and reject this scheme, which is designed at the behest of the poultry industry and only benefits its bottom line.”
Food & Water Watch’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in September of last year on behalf of itself, its members and two individuals, charges that the new system violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), a 1957 law giving USDA the authority to protect consumer health and welfare. The organization asked the federal district court to immediately enjoin the program.
On Monday, the federal court took a pass on the lawsuit altogether, deciding it could not review the agency’s authority to issue the rules, dismissing the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing to maintain their challenge. Food & Water Watch is now asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit to review the validity of this decision.
“The new USDA scheme, which reverses 100 years of effective government regulation of the meat industry, does great harm to consumers, and should be sent back to the drawing board,” said Hauter. “We hope that the court of appeals will reverse the lower court’s decision to the contrary.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, kfried(at)fwwatch(dot)org.