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Center for Science in the Public Interest v. Vilsack

In May 2011, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requesting that the agency declare that four strains of antibiotic-resistant (ABR) Salmonella, when found in ground meat and poultry products, are adulterants under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. A declaration of this kind would have the effect of barring affected meat and poultry products from entering commerce. It would also confirm the agency’s authority to request without evidence of illness that a company recall products containing ABR Salmonella, or—in the absence of a company’s voluntary compliance—to detain and seize those products. CSPI’s petition emphasized the severe human health consequences of infection by ABR pathogens, including more serious and prolonged infections, lengthier hospitalizations, increased frequency of bloodstream infections, and increased mortality. Despite the serious consequences of infection by ABR Salmonella, and the demonstrated health risks of exposure to this bacteria in ground meat and poultry products, FSIS has not declared the four strains of ABR Salmonella at issue in CSPI’s petition to constitute adulterants.

Public Citizen represented CSPI in a lawsuit filed in May 2014 against the agency for failing to act on CSPI’s petition. In response to our complaint, USDA replied to the petition, ending the case.