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Community Nutrition Institute v. Young

United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
818 F.2d 943 (D.C. Cir. 1987)


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (defendant) promulgated rules setting action levels for contaminants in corn, without complying with the notice-and-comment requirements for informal rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 551 et seq. The action-level rules defined acceptable contaminant levels and made corn producers potentially subject to FDA enforcement actions for selling corn that contained contaminants in amounts that exceeded the action levels. The rules also provided that food producers could request an exemption from the FDA to sell food containing contaminants that exceeded the action levels. The Community Nutrition Institute (CNI) (plaintiff) filed suit in federal district court, challenging the FDA’s action-level rules in federal district court. The district court granted summary judgment to the FDA. CNI appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FDA conceded at oral argument that it did not have the discretion to prosecute a corn producer for selling food that complied with the action levels. However, the FDA maintained that its action levels were interpretive rules articulating non-binding policy statements and were thus exempt from the APA’s notice-and-comment requirements.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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