Animal Law Review

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates meat labeling under the statutory authority of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA). The FMIA’s labeling preemption clause prohibits labeling requirements beyond federal requirements, and would thus preclude state causes of action on the basis of deceptive labels that were properly approved under federal law. Through the eyes of Kat, a hypothetical consumer concerned with the origins of the meat she purchases for her family, this Article argues that consumers should be able to pursue state law claims based on fraudulent animal welfare labels on packages of meat. This is true for two reasons: first, the FMIA’s labeling preemption only covers the USDA’s statutory scope of authority, which does not include on-farm treatment of animals; and second, both FMIA and a state cause of action would require the same thing—a non-fraudulent label. However, even if a court did find that a state cause of action based on a fraudulent label was preempted, consumer plaintiffs would have other avenues through which to pursue their claims.

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