As they often have done in the past, the FTC and the FDA issued joint cease and desist letters last week to 10 companies suspected of making unproven health claims – in this instance, claims that dietary supplements treat or cure diabetes. The FTC and the FDA join forces on such letters in order to
For our June review, the action stays largely in the litigation arena with vanilla getting thrown out and sustainability as well as settlements getting called into question. Meanwhile, environmental and health stakeholders are pushing FDA to ban PFAS from food contact uses as many in industry move away from PFAS-containing packaging. How to digest all of it? Consider some yogurt. FDA updated the standard of identity, making it more delicious than ever. Let’s take a look….
Two More Vanilla Cases Get Thrown Out of the Food Court
In Robie v. Trader Joe’s Co., the Northern District of California dismissed claims that Trader Joe’s Almond Clusters cereal should have been labeled as “artificially flavored.” The court held that, because the vanilla flavor can from both the vanilla plant and vanillin derived from tree bark, it was properly labeled as “Vanilla Flavored With Other Natural Flavors” under applicable FDA regulations and the plaintiff’s claims suggesting otherwise were preempted. The court also found that the plaintiff had failed to allege facts suggesting that reasonable consumers would interpret “vanilla” on the product label to mean that the product’s flavor is derived exclusively from the vanilla plant, especially given that the challenged label did not contain any other words or pictures suggesting that the flavor was derived exclusively from the vanilla bean.…
Continue Reading Food Industry Regulatory and Litigation Highlights – June 2021
Welcome to our April + May combined report on food litigation, regulatory trends and events. We have a lot to report in the food world, with a number of litigation currents starting to form, and some new waves building. Let’s see what happened….
Cheesy Goodness? General Mills was hit with five putative class actions challenging its Annie’s mac and cheese marketing representations that the product is “Made with Goodness” when, in fact, it contains potentially harmful chemicals known as ortho-phthalates which are linked to asthma, breast cancer and diabetes. The cases are pending in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the Northern District of California. The Kraft Heinz Company was named in similar suits filed in the Northern District of California and the Northern District of Illinois.
Sparkling Water/Seltzer: A number of companies were named in putative class actions alleging that various sparkling water products misrepresented the nature of the flavoring agents used. For example, a complaint against Whole Foods (filed in the Southern District of New York) alleges that the Lemon Raspberry Italian Sparkling Mineral Water does not contain an appreciable amount real lemons or real raspberries. Similarly, a complaint against Kroger (filed in the Northern District of California) challenges the non-disclosure of artificial flavoring chemicals. Finally, Molson Coors Beverage Company was named in a class action alleging that its “Vizzy” brand hard seltzers are marketed as containing a significant amount of healthful qualities and nutrients such as vitamin C which, according to the complaint, falsely implies that alcoholic beverages could provide health benefits.
More Vanilla: April and May saw two new vanilla filings, including a case against Prairie Farms Dairy, Inc., alleging that the defendant’s “Premium Vanilla” ice cream was falsely labeled as containing “natural colors and flavors” (Northern District of Illinois) and a case against Hostess alleging that its vanilla wafer products were falsely advertised as containing real vanilla (Missouri state court).
More Natural: The past two months have seen a slew of new “natural” filings in the food industry. Such filings challenge of synthetic preservatives and other ingredients including citric acid (3 cases), ascorbic acid (1 case), artificial coloring (1 case), and monk fruit extract, which is alleged to be natural but processed with artificial solvents and additives (1 case). The filings were made across the country, including in Missouri state court (4 cases), the Central District of California (1 case), and the Southern District of Illinois (1 case). In addition to the natural allegations relating to monk fruit extract, a case against Chobani also challenges claims relating to “complete nutrition,” “advanced nutrition” and the use of a “+” symbol in connection with prebiotics and probiotics which, according to the complaint, falsely suggests that the product has more pre- and probiotics than other comparable foods.
Coffee, Please: We have also seen an uptick in coffee-related class actions, with two actions alleging that ground coffee products artificially inflate the number of cups that can be made from their contents given the directions for use.
Delivery Fees: April and May saw a continued trend of challenges relating to food delivery charges during the pandemic, with cases filed against GrubHub, alleged to have charged an undisclosed $2.50/delivery fee on top of its $9.99/month “Unlimited Free Delivery” for GrubHub+ users, and against Panera, alleged to have falsely promised a flat delivery charge on food deliveries ordered through Panera’s app and website. Both cases are pending in California state court.
Welcome to our selected regulatory and litigation highlights impacting the food and beverage industry in March 2021. The food court saw its own brand of March Madness with disputes over food delivery fees kicking off this month’s update.
Hidden Delivery Fees
A number of suits were filed in March regarding undisclosed delivery fees. …
Welcome to our monthly digest of litigation and regulatory highlights impacting the food and beverage industry. February saw another win for industry on the vanilla front, a preemption win in California state court, and FDA continuing with COVID-19-related warning letters and foreign supplier verification enforcement. Let’s take a look….
Industry scored another win on…
Welcome to our monthly digest of litigation and regulatory highlights impacting the food and beverage industry. As it has been for many months, the story was mostly about what’s going on in the food court. Let’s take a look….
Vanilla, vanilla, and more vanilla….The plaintiff’s bar remains skeptical of any product labeled as vanilla. …
Last month, a California court, for a second time, dismissed a class action complaint asserting that Ghirardelli’s advertising for its “Classic White” “Premium Baking Chips” created the false impression that the product contained real chocolate—this time with prejudice. Plaintiffs in Cheslow v. Ghirardelli Chocolate Co., Case No. 19-cv-07467-PJH, alleged that they purchased Ghirardelli’s product…
Find the replay of our webinar Cleaning Up From 2020: Guidance for Disinfectant, Germ and Virus Killing Claims here.
COVID-19 has brought a proliferation of products claiming to kill or otherwise inhibit viruses, bacteria and other germs. These products, before they can be legally sold, are heavily regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency…
A federal judge in Florida recently dismissed a false advertising case against Tyson Fresh Meats and The Fresh Market challenging the use of the word “prime” to describe Tyson’s “Chairman’s Reserve Prime Pork.” Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants “misrepresented that the USDA had graded their product as prime,” but notably did not allege…
On July 13, consumers filed a class action complaint in California federal court against Bigelow Tea, alleging the company falsely and deceptively represented that its tea products were made in the United States. Plaintiffs claim that the tea manufacturer advertised that its tea products were “Manufactured in the USA 100% American Family Owned” and “America’s…