Friday, January 15, 2016

Agricultural Law Weekly Review: January 15, 2016

Written by M. Sean High – Staff Attorney

A weekly update of recent local, state, national, and international legal developments relevant to agriculture.

·         Food Policy: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Released
o   On January 7, 2015, the federal government released the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th Edition.  Published every five years, the Federal Dietary Guidelines are intended to “inform the development of Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs” and are the result of a joint effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

·         Food Policy: Advocacy group sues Federal government over 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines                                Recommendation
o   On January 6, 2016, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine brought suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Case No. 3:16-cv-00069) against USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell (available to subscribers at  The complaint alleged that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s (DGAC) decision to recommend that the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 8th Edition should not include previous advice to limit the consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams per day was a result of improper influence from: 1) research funded by USDA’s egg promotion program; and 2) DGAC members’ institutions receiving funding from the egg industry.

·         GMO Labeling: Campbell Soup Company Releases Statement Backing Mandatory GMO                                        Labeling
o   On January 7, 2016, Campbell Soup Company (Campbell) issued a press release announcing the company’s “support for the enactment of federal legislation to establish a single mandatory labeling standard for foods derived from genetically modified organisms (GMOs).” According to the press release, Campbell will no longer participate in efforts to oppose mandatory national GMO labeling, but will continue “to oppose…state-by-state labeling laws, which it believes are incomplete, impractical and create unnecessary confusion for consumers.”  

·         Food Safety: Stockholder Files Federal Class Action Against Chipotle over Food Safety
o   On January 8, 2016, Chipotle stockholder Susie Ong brought a class action suit against the company in the United States District Court Southern District of New York (Case No. 1:16-cv-00141).  According to the complaint, Chipotle “made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) Chipotle’s quality controls were not in compliance with applicable consumer and workplace safety regulations; (ii) Chipotle’s quality controls were inadequate to safeguard consumer and employee health; and (iii) as a result of the foregoing, Chipotle’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.” The complaint alleged that as a result of these actions, and a subsequent market decline in the value of Chipotle securities, Susie Ong and her fellow class members suffered “significant losses and damages.”

·         Voluntary Standards: USDA AMS Withdraws Standards for Grass-Fed and Naturally-Raised                                          Meat
o   On January 12, 2016, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued notice in the Federal Register that the agency was withdrawing the U.S. Standards for Livestock and Meat Marketing Claims (81 FR 1386).  Specifically, AMS is withdrawing the standards for grass-fed and naturally raised meat products because of conflicts between USDA’s-verified production/marketing and the food labeling pre-approvals currently required from either the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service or the Food and Drug Administration.    

·         Water Regulation: Congress Votes to Overturn WOTUS Rule
o   On January 13, 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a joint resolution (by a vote of 253-166) which if enacted, would overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial Waters of the U.S./Clean Water Rule (S.J.RES.22).  The resolution currently awaits presidential action.

·         Biofuel Standards: Groups File Challenge to EPA’s Authority Regarding Biofuel Mandates
o   On January 8, 2016, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, seven advocacy groups (Americans for Clean Energy, the American Coalition for Ethanol, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Sorghum Producers and the Renewable Fuels Association) filed a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to waive the biofuel volume mandates established by Congress (Case No. 16-1005).  Filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the case is available to subscribers at

·         Ag-Gag: North Carolina Ag-Gag Law Challenged in Federal Court
o   On January 13, 2016, six advocacy groups (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Center for Food Safety, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Farm Sanctuary, Food & Water Watch, and the Government Accountability Project) filed suit challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina’s recently enacted “ag-gag” law (Case No. 16-cv-25).  Filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina Greensboro Division, the case is available to subscribers at

·         International Food Regulation: European Panel Determines UV-Treated Milk Safe               
o   On January 11, 2016, following a request by the European Commission, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued an opinion that, in certain applications, ultraviolet radiation can safely extend the shelf life of milk.

No comments:

Post a Comment