US meatpacking company Nebraska Beef has filed a lawsuit against nine government food safety inspectors, alleging that they unfairly targeted the company’s plant for their own gain.

The lawsuit claims that nine USDA inspectors targeted the plant in order to gain promotions, enhance the USDA’s reputation and increase overtime opportunities, reported the Associated Press.

In January, Nebraska Beef challenged the USDA’s attempt to remove its inspectors from the Omaha plant, which would have led to production being stopped. The company argued that it had responded sufficiently to USDA concerns and that a shutdown would cost the company US$2.7m a day and leave 1,100 people without work.

Nebraska Beef and the USDA reached a settlement which allowed the government agency to shut down the plant if it determined that the company was not meeting its obligations.

In the lawsuit, Nebraska Beef claims the USDA has violated the settlement’s terms for fair inspections and the company wants the agreement declared null and void.

Since the settlement was made, the company says it has received 58 reports of non-compliance of food safety standards by the USDA, despite the company “operating its business operations in a consistent and continuous manner.”