U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill has issued a preliminary injunction against a California law recently passed that requires non-ambulatory animals to be euthanized instead of proceeding to slaughter according to an Associated Press report in the Los Angeles Daily News. A state law banning the slaughter of downer animals was written last year after an animal rights group recorded abuse at a California slaughterhouse.

The ruling, made on Thursday, says that a 102-year-old federal food safety law supersedes the California law. The old law allows pigs too sick to stand to be slaughtered under certain conditions.

The finding raised immediate concern from animal welfare groups. "This challenge to California law is a stunning example of the meat industry's utter disregard for animal suffering and public safety," according to Bradley Miller, national director of the Humane Farming Association. Other animal welfare groups vowed to appeal the ruling saying it endangers the nation's food supply.

The Humane Society of the United States, Farm Sanctuary and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said the ruling could lead to the slaughter of sick and injured animals.