Consumer groups filed an amicus curiae brief with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in the case of Food & Water Watch v. USDA. The lawsuit challenges USDA’s New Poultry Inspection System rules, which allows poultry plant workers to do more bird inspections and help federal inspectors target strategies that USDA says will better strengthen food safety.

Organizations listed on the brief include the Government Accountability Project (GAP), Consumer Federation of America, Center for Foodborne Illness, Southern Poverty Law Center, and Nebraska Appleseed.

The brief supports a recent motion filed by Food & Water Watch to prevent the agency’s scheduled implementation of the rules in poultry processing facilities nationwide later this month. The brief argues that the program violates the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) by shirking the agency’s responsibilities under the Act and allowing poultry processing facilities to make critical determinations and perform key tasks that the Act plainly mandates be performed by government inspectors.

The joint brief also points out that the USDA’s rulemaking process did not include public meetings to enable all interested stakeholders and individuals to orally comment on the rules prior to their enactment this year, another violation of the PPIA.