An upcoming Appeals Court decision may embolden consumer advocacy groups to bypass administrative remedies in favor of the courts. (subscription to Food Chemical News required)

  • Consumer groups sued FDA in November 2014 for approving ractopamine-based feed additives used to promote faster growth and leaner meat in food producing animals such as cattle, pigs, and turkeys, alleging that FDA failed to properly consider environmental and public health risks.  Of note, the consumer groups failed to exhaust the administrative process (i.e., submitting a citizen petition with FDA) prior to filing their complaint in federal court.
  • In dismissing the complaint in November 2015, the U.S. District Court for Northern California found that the consumer groups should, in fact, have exhausted the administrative process before filing the complaint.  The Center for Food Safety (CFS) appealed the district court’s decision in December 2015 and, most recently, FDA filed a brief on August 12th urging the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the district court’s November 2015 decision.
  • If the court grants CFS’ appeal in this case, consumer advocacy groups may be emboldened to bypass the citizen petition process.  The result could be additional lawsuits that would otherwise be more efficiently handled at the administrative level where Agency officials could more readily address technical issues falling within their expertise.