The Center for Food Safety (CFS) reported that U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller dismissed a legal challenge to California's AB 1437, a law that protects public health by prohibiting the sale of eggs produced in facilities that use battery cages. In February, Missouri and five other states sued the state of California to block the law. CFS filed an amicus brief* in support of the law.
“This is a victory for the state of California, for the rule of law and for consumers. Battery cage eggs are 25 times more likely to harbor Salmonella than their cage-free counterparts. It’s a simple fact that these cages increase consumers’ risk of Salmonella poisoning,” said Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for Center for Food Safety. “AB 1437 is necessary to protect the public from unnecessary risk and prevent this unsafe method of egg production. The court's ruling leaves in tact the state's inherent authority to protect its citizens."
Eggs are the leading cause of Salmonella foodborne illness, infecting 142,000 Americans every year. Economic loss from foodborne illnesses cost $77 billion per year, with $365 million in direct medical costs related to Salmonella.
In the dismissal, the Court held that the Plaintiff States do not have standing to bring the lawsuit, as the law only impacts of a subset of egg producers that are planning not to comply with the law. The States failed to allege how consumers-at-large will be harmed by the law, and in fact consumers could benefit from lower prices. Finally, the Court did not grant Plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint because under no scenario would they have standing to sue.
The 2010 law will now go into effect on January 1, 2015. Beginning next year, all eggs sold in the state of California must come from hens that have enough room to move and spread their wings.