Bloomberg News

Meat Industry Gets U.S. Supreme Court Hearing on California Law

June 27, 2011

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a meat industry trade group’s challenge to a California law that requires slaughterhouses to immediately euthanize animals that are too sick to stand up.

The justices today granted an appeal by the National Meat Association, which argues that U.S. meat-safety law bars California from imposing its requirements on federally inspected slaughterhouses.

The state law was enacted in 2008 after the Humane Society of the United States released a video of so-called downer cows being kicked, electrocuted, dragged with chains and rammed with a forklift at a Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. slaughterhouse.

The California law bans slaughterhouses from buying or selling downer cows and from butchering them for human consumption. The measure also requires humane handling of the animals.

A San Francisco-based federal appeals court refused to grant a preliminary injunction blocking the law. Although the court said the humane-handling provision probably was pre-empted by federal law, the three-judge panel declined to block it, saying the trade group hadn’t shown its members would suffer “irreparable injury.”

The case is National Meat Association v. Harris, 10-224.

--Editors: Jim Rubin, Laurie Asseo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Stohr in Washington at gstohr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net.


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