US lawsuit challenging proposed pig slaughter rules proceeds through federal courts

A lawsuit that contests the Trump administration's regulatory rollback in pig slaughterhouses has been allowed to proceed in federal court.

8 February 2021, at 9:38am

A US federal court allowed a lawsuit contesting the Trump administration's rollback of food safety rules in swine slaughter plants to proceed. The court denied the government's motion to dismiss the case, saying that the groups had the legal standing to pursue their claims.

The plaintiffs—Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and Humane Farming Association—filed their lawsuit in early 2020 challenging US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) "New Swine Inspection System" program. The organisations assert that the Trump administration's rules will harm consumers by eliminating statutory requirements that federal government inspectors perform critical inspection responsibilities, instead handing these over to slaughter plant employees. The lawsuit also challenged the rules' lifting of limits on plants' slaughter-line speed. The suit is one of three that have been lodged around the country challenging the legality of the swine-slaughter rules.

The court ruled that "[a]ccepting [their] allegations as true, the Court concludes there is a credible threat that [their] members face an increased risk of illness from consuming adulterated pork products because of the [new rules], sufficiently establishing standing based on potential future harm."

In response, Ryan Talbott, an attorney for the Center for Food Safety said:

"We are pleased that the court recognised the 'credible threat' posed by USDA's new swine inspection rules. With today's decision, we are one step closer to ending this reckless policy change."