August 9, 2022

Volume XII, Number 221

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August 08, 2022

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PETA Petitions USDA-FSIS to Remove Animal Raising Claims from Label Approval Process

  • On June 27th, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted a petition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) requesting that the Agency initiate rulemaking to remove animal raising claims from the Agency’s label approval process.

  • Currently, labels bearing “special statements and claims,” including “claims regarding the raising of animals,” must be approved by FSIS’s Labeling Program and Delivery Staff prior to use. (See 9 CFR 412.1 for a full list of labels, including other special statements and claims, that must be approved by FSIS.) In 2019, FSIS published a guidance document which describes the documents that are needed to substantiate animal raising claims for label submissions. These include documentation describing the manner in which the animals are raised, a written description explaining the controls for ensuring the claim is valid, a description of product tracing and segregation (including for non-conforming product), and a current copy of any applicable third-party certificates.

  • In the petition, PETA argues that USDA exceeds its authority by approving animal raising claims because the Agency’s authorizing statues (the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act) do not authorize it to regulate on-farm raising activities, and instead limit its jurisdiction to slaughterhouses, packing facilities, and other processing and distribution facilities. Therefore, without any jurisdiction to conduct on-farm inspections, PETA argues that FSIS is unable to adequately substantiate these claims. Furthermore, PETA argues that animal raising claims including (but not limited to) “humanely raised,” “animal friendly,” and “raised with care” are inconsistently defined by animal producers and certifying entities, and that consumer expectations of these claims often differ significantly from company claims. As a result, and citing to several prominent examples, PETA argues that many of the animal raising claims that FSIS approves are in fact not truthful and/or misleading, and yet allow for significant price premiums to be charged. Accordingly, the petition requests that FSIS amend 9 CFR 412.1 to no longer allow for the review and approval of animal raising claims, and that the Agency rescind its guidelines regarding substantiation of animal raising claims. Keller and Heckman will monitor and report on the Agency’s response to the petition and whether it sparks any class action lawsuits.

© 2022 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 186
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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...

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