Meat Animals, Humane Standards, & Other Legal Fictions

Law, Culture & Humanities, 2012

12 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2012

See all articles by David N. Cassuto

David N. Cassuto

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

Date Written: July 17, 2012


Law and food are distinct concepts, though the discipline (Law and Food) implies a relationship worthy of study. The conjunction (“and”) creates meaning. However, its absence also conveys meaning. For example, “meat animal” suggests that animals can be both meat and animal. This conflation has powerful legal implications. National Meat Association v. Harris (2012) makes chillingly plain the law’s indifference to whether a meat animal is alive or dead. This essay examines the way supposedly humane federal practices ignore the systematic brutalization of “food animals” as those animals get processed into marketable flesh. It concludes with some observations about why this legal blindness exists.

Keywords: National Meat Association v. Harris, humane standards, meat animal, industrial agriculture, National Meat Inspection Act, preemption, Supreme Court, law & food, food law, animal law

JEL Classification: D18, H51, K10, K19, K23, K30, K32, K39, L66, L79, N50, Q10, Q18, Q28, R38, Z00

Suggested Citation

Cassuto, David N., Meat Animals, Humane Standards, & Other Legal Fictions (July 17, 2012). Law, Culture & Humanities, 2012, Available at SSRN:

David N. Cassuto (Contact Author)

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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