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Center for Food Safety Supports Legal Challenge to Utah’s ‘Ag-gag’ Law

Since an animal activist arrested last spring under Utah’s new “agricultural operation interference” statute had the charges quickly dismissed because she was on public property at the time of the incident, Utah’s attorney general wants a constitutional challenge to the law tossed as well.

But a major food safety group Wednesday argued the benefit of the case going forward.

The Utah attorney general’s office says none of the parties actually involved – including a Washington, D.C., journalist, a Texas professor, and various individual animal activists – have “standing” to bring the case challenging Utah law.

Others, however, are paying the $15 fee to file so-called amicus briefs in support of the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s federal lawsuit against Utah, challenging the state’s “ag-gag” law. The latest to present arguments is the Center for Food Safety, joined by other groups, which argues that Utah is criminalizing private conduct that “keeps the food supply safe in the absence of effective federal oversight.”

“In the absence of effective government regulation, private, undercover investigations of the kind conducted by [the] Plaintiffs and outlawed by Utah’s ‘ag gag’ law fulfill the much-needed role of overseeing the safety of our food supply,” wrote Center for Food Safety attorney Cristina Stella.

In its brief, the Center for Food Safety argued that “such investigations are currently the public’s best defense against foodborne illnesses that are known to be caused by diseased and contaminated animal products. Government inspectors have proven time and again to be incredibly ineffective at stopping food safety violations, and in some instances purposefully turn a blind eye so that they can continue.”

© Food Safety News
  • ScottHurd

    Makes no sense.!
    why is it OK to let someone lie, enter my business and destroy it?????
    Besides undercover videos do NOT detect any kind of foodborne illness threats. Bacteria are invisible.

  • Rosa

    I Agree with Scotthurd 100%

  • AuntyMM

    how can it be reassuring to consumers when businesses want to cover up their actual operations? if business operations are legal and ethical, why would any business object to openness and transparency?
    why not offer consumers what they need and want? isn’t that the whole purpose of business? and if businesses aren’t also employing all those consumers, in the aggregate, then chambers of commerce are not doing their job.

  • Jerry Foster

    AuntyMM, undercover animal rights investigations are not about protecting animal well being, or the investigators would go to authorities immediately instead of taking the time to edit their video. They wouldn’t make efforts to keep portions of their video secret from authorities. And they wouldn’t hold their video for months on end waiting to time the release with other events designed to bring in more donations to large factory fund raisers like HSUS and ASPCA.

    You ask why not give consumers complete transparency. I don’t have a problem with that. But I’ll leave you with something to think about. Have you ever tried to get complete transparency in the medical field? How many times do doctors allow anyone to watch as they perform surgery? How many times do hospitals release, publish and advertise undercover patient care audits? Would complete transparency in the medical field be more important than in farming?