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The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C.S. § 301 et seq., defines "food" as: (1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for components of any such article. 21 U.S.C.S. § 321(f).
Defendants Tuente Livestock, Ronald W. Tuente, and Roger B. Tuente were buying hogs from farmers and were selling them to slaughterhouses, which, in turn, slaughter and process the animals for ultimate consumption. The Defendants were accused by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of delivering swine to slaughterhouses whose edible tissues were tainted with illegal levels of residue of sulfamethazine. The United States sued under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C.S. § 301, et seq.), specifically invoking 21 U.S.C.S. §§ 332(a) and 331(a). The United States sought an injunction to prevent the Defendants from engaging in their business, unless and until they have taken certain actions to ensure the purity of their hogs. The Defendants sought the dismissal of the suit, arguing that live swine were not “food” within the meaning of the Act, and that their business did not consist of the “introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce" of their products.”
Were live hogs “food” within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, thereby warranting the denial of the Defendants’ motion to dismiss?
Overruling the Defendants’ motion to dismiss, the court held that live hogs were food, based on the FDA's interpretation of 21 U.S.C.S. § 331(a) to permit it to act against persons who introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce live swine intended for slaughter and subsequent use as food, the edible tissues of which contain above-tolerance residues of sulfamethazine. The court found that a party who purchased an adulterated article from another party and, in turn, passed it on to another, could be held liable under § 331(a).