Federal judge rejects HIMP lawsuit

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – A US District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the US Department of Agriculture's plan to update poultry inspection practices.

Patty Lovera, assistant director for Food & Water Watch, said the organization was disappointed with the ruling. She said when the group fully reviews the lengthy opinion: “We’re going to figure out what we’re going to do next,” Lovera said.

In a 50-page opinion, US District Court Judge Ketanji Brown dismissed the case because the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the lawsuit. Additionally, she said the court had limited power to address their concerns, although the court had no doubt about the plaintiff's sincere belief that the new inspection procedures will lead to unsafe poultry products. Brown said the plaintiffs “must demonstrate at the outset that they have, or will have, an injury-in-fact that is traceable to the actions of the Defendants and that relief from this Court can address.”

“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” is precisely the type of generalized grievance that Article III courts are not empowered to consider,” Brown wrote in her opinion.

In September 2014, Food & Water Watch asked the court to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent USDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service from implementing the new National Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). The organization argued that NPIS is inconsistent with the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and would ultimately lead to the production of unsafe poultry products.
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