Lewis advocated for the low-income victims of contaminated meat and eggs produced by factory farms and slaughterhouses by building coalitions, negotiating with fast food chains and federal regulatory agencies, and litigating as necessary.
Need Addressed By Project
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that each year approximately 50 million Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses; 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die. The primary source of foodborne illnesses is contaminated animal products. The victims are disproportionately the low-income consumers of cheap, factory-farmed food: public school children and fast food customers. Because these victims are also the least empowered in our legal and political system, few seek redress or reform of our broken meat production system. Reform requires a multi-pronged approach: building coalitions among animal protection, food safety, and social justice groups; sensible government regulations and enforcement; negotiations with producers and large-scale buyers; consumer education; and, when necessary, litigation.
During his Fellowship, Lewis
- Built coalitions with five food safety, environmental, and animal protection groups to tackle food safety issues on factory farms and at slaughterhouses
- Submitted an administrative petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ban the slaughter of “downer” pigs, which are non-ambulatory because of illness or injury and are significantly more likely to carry foodborne pathogens
- Developed impact litigation with coalition partners
- Intervened as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by six states that would undermine California’s pioneering ban on the sale of eggs from hens kept in cruel and unsanitary conditions, which raises the likelihood of Salmonella contamination
- Filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests with the USDA and Food and Drug Administration to access information on cruelty and contamination issues related to animal farming and slaughterhouse operations
Cody assisted local law enforcement, prosecutors, agencies, and civil litigators in bringing meaningful enforcement actions following whistleblower documentation of large-scale animal abuse.
Need Addressed By Project
Undercover investigations conducted by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have repeatedly exposed egregious misconduct in a variety of animal industries. Too often, however, the parties responsible are not sufficiently held legally accountable for this misconduct. This project seeks to use HSUS’s findings to spur civil and criminal enforcement actions capable of remedying ongoing harms and deterring future unlawful activity.
In the past two years, Cody has:
• Set up a whistle blower hotline for farm workers calling for stronger workplace hazard standards
• Helped devise and draft complaint for potential class action consumer fraud lawsuits against internet puppy dealers and misleading “happy chicken” representations on egg cartons
• Worked with a variety of federal agencies to implement protocols to reduce the suffering of egg-laying hens affected by bird flu, lower the cost of care for seized animals, and filed enforcement requests that result in administrative closure of roadside zoos and similar attractions
Where are they now?
Now that the Fellowship is complete, Cody plans to:
• Continue protecting animals from abuse and neglect through a position with Mercy for Animals focused on legislative advocacy