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Violations of the Federal Meat Inspection Act

The Federal Meat Inspection Act was passed to ensure that consumers were protected and were provided with good quality meat. The Act provides prohibitions against numerous types of conduct. Some of the prohibited types of prohibited conduct include:

  • Slaughtering animals not in conformity with the requirements set forth in the Act.
  • Selling or transporting mislabeled meat through interstate commerce.
  • Counterfeiting or unlawfully using certain labels and/or packaging.
  • Selling or transporting horse meat without proper permission or identification thereof.
  • Importing meat without complying with the requirements set forth under the Act.
  • Bribing meat inspectors or accepting a bribe as a meat inspector.
  • Selling or acquiring diseased or dying animals for the purpose of slaughter.
  • Interfering with the inspectors’ duties under the Act.

In order for the prosecution to show that the defendant violated the Act, he or she need not prove that the defendant had the specific intent to violate the Act. Violating the Act is a general intent crime.

If the meat inspector accepts a bribe, he may be charged with violating the Act and bribery. The meat inspector violates the Act if he accepts or receives an item of value regardless of the intent of the donor. If convicted, the meat inspector may be fined, sentenced to prison time, and may lose his job.

Although there is no corresponding provision under the Act for liability of meat packers, it has been determined by numerous courts that meat packers may also be liable for violating the Act. However, the meat packers would not be held to the same level of liability as the meat inspector.

Penalties

If a seller or transporter of meat goods is convicted of violating the Act, he may be fined, sentenced to prison time or both. Furthermore, the seller may be precluded from further transporting meat goods in the future. If the seller owns a slaughterhouse, the slaughterhouse may be shut down as a result of violating the Act.