The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) alleging a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) based on USDA’s lack of response to ALDF’s 2011 rulemaking petition requesting mandatory labeling on foie gras produced through the forced feeding of ducks or geese. Animal Legal Def. Fund v. U.S. Dep’t of Agric., No. 15-5063 (N.D. Cal., San Francisco Div., filed November 5, 2015).

ALDF argues that force-fed foie gras products are mislabeled because USDA certifies them as “[i]nspected for wholesomeness” despite the fact that force-feeding “induces a metabolic disease and commonly results in the onset of all of the conditions mentioned in [USDA’s Poultry Products Inspection Act].” The organization seeks a declaration that USDA has violated the APA and an injunction compelling the agency to substantively respond to the petition.

“The USDA is responsible for ensuring that all poultry products that enter the food supply are from healthy animals,” ALDF Executive Director Stephen Wells said in a November 5, 2015, press release. “Despite the diseased origins of foie gras and the threat it poses to human health, the agency allows foie gras products to carry its official mark of inspection, which misleads consumers into thinking that they have been inspected for wholesomeness. This violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act.” More information about ongoing litigation concerning California’s overturned ban on foie gras appears in Issue 554 of this Update.