The Agriculture Marketing Service of the United States Department of Agriculture announced an agreement reached with Canada’s Food Inspection Agency that will provide U.S. organic dairy, beef, sheep, goat and bison producers with more streamlined access to the Canadian market. Canada now considers U.S. organic requirements for access to pasture and living conditions to be

On January 25, 2012, the Food Nutrition Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) issued a final rule that substantially modifies the menu planning and nutrition requirements for the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. The rule, which is intended to improve the dietary habits of school children in grades K-12

In a unanimous opinion published on January 23, 2012, the Supreme Court reversed the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and held that a California law prohibiting the sale, processing or holding of a nonambulatory animal was expressly preempted by the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA).

The case, National Meat Association v. Harris, dealt with Section 599f of the California Penal Code, which was enacted in 2008 in response to an undercover video released by the Humane Society showing workers in California kicking and electroshocking sick and disabled cows in an attempt to move the cows. The law makes it a crime for any slaughterhouse to “buy, sell or receive a nonambulatory animal,” or to “process, butcher or sell meat or products of nonambulatory animals for human consumption,” or “hold a nonambulatory animal without taking immediate action to humanely euthanize the animal.”

The National Meat Association (NMA) sued to enjoin enforcement of the law as applied to swine slaughterhouses and argued that the FMIA’s broad express preemption provision prohibited California from enacting distinct requirements for the handling of nonambulatory pigs. The FMIA and implementing regulations enacted by the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) broadly regulate slaughterhouses to promote meat safety and humane treatment. With respect to the treatment of nonambulatory pigs, FSIS regulations permit slaughterhouses to hold and eventually sell nonambulatory animals, subject to a “post-mortem” examination.


Continue Reading Supreme Court Unanimously Holds California Law Prohibiting Sale, Processing or Holding of Nonambulatory Pigs Expressly Preempted under the Federal Meat Inspection Act

Today the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published two proposed regulations that will affect companies that produce and market organic food products. One proposed rule would clarify which vitamins and minerals are permitted for use in organic food and infant formula, while the other proposed rule would renew the status

The Federal Food Safety Working Group (“FSWG”) yesterday released a progress report highlighting the groups accomplishments over the last two years and outlining priorities for the future. Established by President Obama in 2009, the FSWG is responsible for building a modern food safety system. Secretary for Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius noted in a conference call that until recently, the federal government had been “monitoring a 21st century food system with 20th century tools.” The purpose of the FSWG is to correct that deficiency.


Continue Reading Food Safety Working Group Releases 2009-2011 Progress Report

On December 14, 2011, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services issued a report finding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) failed to properly oversee food facility inspections conducted by states because FDA had not ensured the requisite number of inspections and failed to follow-up appropriately when inspections occurred. The report was issued in response to a request from Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT), Ranking Member on the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations, following a salmonella outbreak attributed to a Georgia peanut processing plant in 2009.

FDA enters into contracts with state agencies where FDA pays the state to conduct inspections of its food facilities. FDA relied on states for a total of 59 percent of the agency’s food inspections in FY 2009, as opposed to only 42 percent in FY 2004, and spent over $8 million on such inspections.


Continue Reading Health and Human Services Inspector General Report Identifies Shortcomings in FDA Oversight of State Food Inspections

Responding to a letter from eight trade associations asking for more time to prepare for compliance, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an agency within the Department of Agriculture, has decided to delay the effective date of final regulations requiring nutrition labeling for major cuts of single-ingredient raw meat and poultry from January 1

On November 18, 2011, President Obama signed into law H.R. 2112, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act (Pub. L. 112-055), which, among other things, provides funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) for Fiscal Year 2012. The law includes policy “riders” blocking funding for key provisions of a rule proposed by USDA

On November 9, 2011, the Committee for the Right to Know, a consumer advocacy group that focuses on consumer, public health, environmental, and food issues, submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the California state attorney general for title and summary–a necessary step needed to place citizen-created initiatives on the California

Today, the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) released a guidance document for industry titled “What You Need to Know About Administrative Detention of Foods.” The guidance comes just a week after the FDA announced its first administrative detention under the expanded authority granted by Congress in the Food Safety Modernization Act. The FDA will issue