FDA Reports on Antimicrobial Drug Use in Food-Producing Animals

By John M. Simpson.

On December 18, 2018, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Scott Gottlieb, M.D., announced the issuance of the FDA’s 2017 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals.  As the Commissioner noted, the health issues posed by antimicrobial-resistant pathogens are a significant problem.  Antimicrobial resistance is “the ability of a microorganism (bacteria, virus, fungi, parasite) to resist the effects of a drug.”  Therefore, “[o]ptimizing how medically important antimicrobial drugs are used and limiting their use to only when necessary to treat, control or prevent disease will help to preserve the effectiveness of these drugs for fighting disease in both humans and animals.”  Continue reading FDA Reports on Antimicrobial Drug Use in Food-Producing Animals

Lions and Tigers and Bears (No Way!): New Jersey Bans Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows

by Michelle C. Pardo

Last week, New Jersey became the first state in the nation to enact a law prohibiting the use of elephants and other wild or exotic animals in traveling animal acts.  Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill authorizing the statewide ban after it received a significant margin of votes in the Legislature.  The bill had passed last session but was pocket vetoed by Governor Chris Christie. Continue reading Lions and Tigers and Bears (No Way!): New Jersey Bans Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows

Court Dismisses Challenge to USDA’s Failure to Issue AWA Avian Regulations

By John M. Simpson

Earlier this week, a federal district court in Washington, D.C., dismissed an action brought by animal rights organizations challenging the failure of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue animal welfare regulations specific to birds under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA).  American Anti-Vivisection Soc’y, et al. v. U.S. Dep’t of Agriculture, et al., No. 1:18-cv-01138 (TNM) (D.D.C. Dec. 10, 2018).  While finding that the plaintiffs had pleaded sufficient facts to establish Article III standing to sue, the court rejected their substantive claims under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA):  (i) that USDA’s failure to promulgate regulations applicable to birds was “agency action unlawfully withheld;” and (ii) that USDA’s decision not to issue the standards was arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law.  Continue reading Court Dismisses Challenge to USDA’s Failure to Issue AWA Avian Regulations

Farm Bill Protects Pets and Support Animals of Domestic Violence Victims

by John M. Simpson.

The Conference Committee compromise version of the 2018 Farm Bill, was released on December 10, 164 Cong. Rec. H9823 (Dec. 10, 2018).  The measure was passed by the Senate on December 11 and contains a provision that protects the pets, service animals, emotional support animals and horses of victims of stalking and domestic violence.   Section 12502 entitled “Protecting Animals with Shelter,” amends certain parts of Title 18, U.S. Code, to provide protection for such animals.  Continue reading Farm Bill Protects Pets and Support Animals of Domestic Violence Victims

PETA Language Pointers Generate Controversy

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights organization known for attention-grabbing publicity stunts, recently launched a new campaign to rid the English language of idioms that the organization regards as offensive to animals.  Analogizing the matter to the use of “racist, homophobic  or ableist language,” PETA claimed that replacing phrases such as “bring home the bacon” with alternatives such as “bring home the bagels” would remove “speciesism” from daily conversations.   Continue reading PETA Language Pointers Generate Controversy

RSPCA Warns Against Feeding Vegan Diets to Cats

By John M. Simpson.

As reported by certain outlets (here and here), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recently warned that feeding a house cat a vegan diet (i.e., no meat) could violate the UK’s Animal Welfare Act.  The RSPCA’s warning apparently came after several vendors at the National Pet Show in Birmingham in November displayed the latest in vegan pet food and non-meat pet food alternatives.  Continue reading RSPCA Warns Against Feeding Vegan Diets to Cats

U.S. Supreme Court Decides Dusky Gopher Frog Case

By John M. Simpson.

On November 27, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in a closely watched Endangered Species Act (ESA) case involving the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s (FWS’s) designation of “critical habitat” for an endangered species known as the “dusky gopher frog” (Rana sevosa).  Weyerhaeuser Co. v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Serv., 586 U.S. ___, No. 17-71 (Nov. 27, 2018). The Court reversed the Fifth Circuit’s decision which had upheld the FWS designation. Continue reading U.S. Supreme Court Decides Dusky Gopher Frog Case

USDA and FDA Announce Joint Regulatory Oversight for Cell-Cultured Food Products

by Michelle C. Pardo

On November 16, 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the two Agencies will jointly oversee the production of cell-cultured food products derived from livestock and poultry (referred to by some as “clean meat”). This announcement follows October meetings between the two Agencies and stakeholders about issues related to regulatory oversight for this new technology, including issues related to potential hazards in production.

In an official statement:

“the Agencies are today announcing agreement on a joint regulatory framework wherein FDA oversees cell collection, cell banks and cell growth and differentiation. A transition from FDA to USDA oversight will occur during the cell harvest stage. USDA will then oversee the production and labeling of food products derived from the cells of livestock and poultry.”

The Agencies noted that this joint oversight takes advantage of the FDA’s and the USDA’s respective experience with new food technologies, living bio systems, and regulation of livestock and poultry products for human consumption. The Agencies and the Administration have taken the position that no new legislation on this topic is necessary. While many in the meat industry had presumed that the two Agencies would share regulatory oversight, the respective roles were not defined prior to this announcement. Cell-cultured meat companies seemed to have favored the FDA as the primary regulatory agency, while those that raise livestock and poultry for slaughter tended to favor the USDA taking the lead.

Some traditional meat companies have criticized cell-cultured meat technology as “fake meat”.  We previously blogged about a lawsuit challenging state laws that limit what type of product can be labeled as “meat”.  (“What’s Your Beef: Legal Challenge to Missouri’s Meat Advertising  Law)  https://blogs.duanemorris.com/animallawdevelopments/tag/clean-meat/.   Whatever the products marketed and sold to consumers are eventually called — be it “cell-cultured food products”, “clean meat”, “lab grown meat”, “synthetic meat” or “in vitro meat” — this technology is bound to spark further debate among stakeholders in the food industries, the scientific community, consumers, and animal rights activists.

The public comment period on this issue is extended until December 26, 2018.

New York Court of Appeals Tosses Kaporos Animal Cruelty Case

by John M. Simpson

On November 14, 2018, the New York Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of a mandamus petition seeking to enforce certain state animal cruelty laws against the practice of Kaporos.  The Alliance to End Chickens as Kaporos, et al. v. New York City Police Dep’t, et al., No. 126 (N.Y. Nov. 14, 2018).   The Court of Appeals ruled that the “extraordinary remedy” of mandamus was not available because “[e]nforcement of the laws cited by plaintiffs would involve some exercise of discretion …” and plaintiffs “do not seek to compel the performance of ministerial duties but, rather, seek to compel a particular outcome.”  Id., slip. op. 2, 3 (citations omitted). Continue reading New York Court of Appeals Tosses Kaporos Animal Cruelty Case

Voters Approve Two Key Animal-Related Ballot Initiatives

By John M. Simpson.

Two animal-law-related measures of note were passed during the recent mid-term elections.

Proposition 12.  In California, voters approved Proposition 12 which establishes new standards for the confinement of certain farm animals.  The measure sets new minimum requirements for farmers as to space for egg-laying hens and calves raised for veal (to be adopted by 2020) and for breeding pigs (to be adopted by 2022).  The standards apply, not only to eggs, pork and veal produced in California but also to such products imported into the state and produced elsewhere. Continue reading Voters Approve Two Key Animal-Related Ballot Initiatives