Rains Natural Meats in Gallatin, MO, was to have begun processing horsemeat for export today, but instead finds itself added to a temporary restraining order issued by a federal judge in New Mexico. This means USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) must “suspend or withhold the provision of horse meat inspection services to Rains Natural Meats until Oct. 4, 2013.”
FSIS is enjoined from “dispatching inspectors to the horse slaughterhouse facility operated by Rains” until further order by the court.
Rains joins Valley Meat Co. of Roswell, NM, and Responsible Transportation of Sigourney, IA, as would-be horse slaughterhouses now pinned down by a federal lawsuit brought against USDA by multiple horse rescue and animal welfare groups, led by the Humane Society of the United States.
The plaintiffs claim USDA is required to conduct certain environmental and administrative reviews before equine inspection services can resume in the U.S.
The government and the groups have agreed to fast-track arguments before U.S. District Court Judge M. Christina Armijo in Albuquerque, with a trial court ruling coming as early as mid-October. Rains is late to the party, having met all the statutory and regulatory steps to require USDA to provide equine inspection services only after the court case began.
In her order, Judge Armijo referred the Rains matter to federal Magistrate Robert H. Scott, who will decide whether her order should be extended after Oct. 4 and whether an injunction bond will be necessary from the plaintiffs to cover the inclusion of Rains in the case.
Department of Justice attorneys representing USDA told the court last week that Rains was about to receive equine inspection services and the plaintiffs asked that the company be brought under the restraining order.© Food Safety News