The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on workers in meat and poultry processing facilities across the country. In May 2020, Public Citizen submitted a FOIA request to the USDA for records relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the health and safety of workers at meat and poultry processing facilities. USDA granted Public Citizen’s request for expedited processing. Nonetheless, more than one year later, USDA had failed to complete production of the requested records. Moreover, USDA had heavily redacted those records that it produced, invoking FOIA exemptions 4, 5, and 6.
In May 2021, Public Citizen filed suit to compel USDA to complete its production of the requested records and disclose information that it wrongfully withheld. USDA then re-produced some of the documents with fewer redactions. The case is ongoing.