WASHINGTON — The Organic Consumers Association announced Thursday that it has sued Smithfield Foods for falsely advertising Smithfield pork products as the "safest" U.S. pork products.
The complaint was filed on behalf of OCA by Richman Law Group in D.C. Superior Court, under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
"Consumers are unlikely to know that the USDA has notified Smithfield slaughter plants on multiple occasions that their pork was more likely to be contaminated with salmonella than similar products in slaughter plants of the same size," said Ronnie Cummins, OCA co-founder and director.
"Failure to report these notifications to consumers is one thing. But claiming that its products are the 'safest' possible pork products in the U.S. is a blatant misrepresentation of the brand's actual safety record," Cummins said. "The current heightened consumer concern about safety in the meat industry is all the more reason to hold Smithfield accountable for false safety claims."
In the complaint, OCA alleges that on numerous occasions, U.S. Department of Agriculture testing of Smithfield pork has detected pathogens that are "commonly associated with human illness" and resistant to antibiotics. This makes the products far less than the "safest possible" in the U.S., according to OCA.
The suit also alleges that many disease strains detected in Smithfield products have been found to be resistant to antibiotics that are designated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration as "highly important" or even "critically important" for human health.
OCA also alleges that Smithfield employs production practices that result in less safe conditions and products, including crowded conditions, the use of potentially carcinogenic drugs and rapid slaughter methods. Such practices contribute to the emergence of widespread diseases, including those that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
A copy of the full complaint can be found here.