Two California courts have dismissed lawsuits brought by a competitor alleging kombucha companies misrepresented the amount of sugar and alcohol in their products. Tortilla Factory LLC v. Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha LLC, No. 18-2984 (C.D. Cal., entered September 11, 2018); Tortilla Factory LLC v. Better Booch LLC, No. 18-2980 (C.D. Cal., entered September 13, 2018). In April 2018, Tortilla Factory filed several lawsuits alleging that a number of its competitors, including Rowdy Mermaid Kombucha and Better Booch, misrepresent the alcohol and sugar content in their beverages in violation of federal law. The court in Rowdy Mermaid found that Tortilla Factory did not suffer an injury from Rowdy Mermaid's conduct; while the plaintiff argued that the companies are "vying for the same dollars from the same consumers," it failed to argue that "the two companies' products are sold in the same stores, through the same channels, or even in the same geographic…
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed a lawsuit alleging that Del Taco LLC failed to provide "a conciliation agreement acceptable to the Commission" following allegations of discriminatory practices against female employees. EEOC v. Del Taco LLC, No. 18-1978 (C.D. Cal., filed September 17, 2018). Allegations include sexual harassment of female employees by male shift leaders and general managers. The complaint asserts that after Del Taco was notified of the alleged harassment, it "failed to take prompt and effective remedial action reasonably calculated to end the harassment," including "failing to conduct an adequate investigation," "failing to adequately discipline harassing supervisors and/or coworkers," "failing to follow complaint procedures and take sexual harassment complaints seriously" and "actively deterring employees from making sexual harassment complaints." EEOC seeks class certification for the female employees and asks the court to compel Del Taco to "institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs to…
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected a class member's objection to a settlement between Salov North America Corp. and a class of Filippo Berio olive-oil purchasers. Kumar v. Salov N. Am. Corp., No. 17-16405 (9th Cir., entered September 11, 2018). The appeals court held that the district court properly found the settlement "fair, reasonable, and adequate" after considering "the strength of the plaintiffs' case and the risk involved with further litigation."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published Commissioner Scott Gottlieb's September 14, 2018, remarks delivered at the Pew Charitable Trusts on the issue of antimicrobial resistance, including the effects of antibiotics in animals raised for food production. Gottlieb indicated that the agency will release "a draft strategy, likely as a new guidance for industry, by the end of fiscal year 2020" to advise companies on "ensuring that medically important antimicrobials are labeled with appropriately defined durations of use." In addition, FDA's Science Board will hold a public meeting on October 22, 2018, to hear the Center for Veterinary Medicine's response to the board's recommendations on the National Antibiotic Resistance Monitoring System. The board will also discuss "potential hazards and nutritional considerations in the production of food derived from animal cell culture technologies."
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed Rep. Vern Buchanan's (R-Fla.) Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2018, a bill that would prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for the purpose of human consumption. The bill would also prohibit the knowing sale or donation of a dog or cat to a person who would slaughter it for consumption. The bill has been introduced in the U.S. Senate and referred to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.
Trader Joe's has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle allegations that it underfills its five-ounce tuna cans. In re Trader Joe's Tuna Litig., No. 16-1371 (C.D. Cal., motion filed September 14, 2018). Under the agreement, class members will receive $29, which will be diluted pro rata if the total amount of claims exceeds the available funds. According to the motion for preliminary approval, the plaintiffs' investigation included "commissioning pressed weight testing of Trader Joe's Tuna and reviewing numerous pressed weight test reports in cooperation with qualified experts from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb issued a statement providing an update on how mandated added-sugar labeling will affect honey and maple syrup. "We recognized that this new labeling information on 'packaged as such' products may inadvertently lead consumers to think their pure products, such as a jar of honey or maple syrup, may actually contain added table sugar or corn syrup because there are 'added sugars' listed on the label," Gottlieb notes. FDA previously proposed the use of an additional disclosure for honey and maple syrup products, but "the more than 3,000 comments we received on the draft guidance indicate that there are further opportunities to update our proposed approach," according to the press release. Gottlieb indicated that final guidance will be released in 2019. "This guidance will provide a path forward for pure, single-ingredient 'packaged as such' products that does not involve the standard 'added…
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released a report on risks associated with consuming crickets. The report finds that crickets contain high microbial loads because the entire insect—"including their guts"—is eaten, but food-borne bacteria infections are rare, though they may occur during processing. Crickets can also be host to mycotoxin-producing fungi that cannot be controlled with heat processing, the researchers report. Heavy metal accumulation and allergenicity were determined to be medium hazards, while viral or parasitic infections were considered low-risk.
The U.K. Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reportedly found that one-fifth of meat samples tested contained DNA not attributable to the animal source indicated on the label. FSA conducted 665 tests from 487 businesses suspected of "compliance issues," including restaurants and supermarkets, and purportedly found that some samples contained DNA from as many as four animals. The products included mincemeat, sausages, kebabs and curries. An FSA spokesperson reportedly told BBC that the results were "not representative of the wider food industry."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have announced a joint public meeting to discuss "the use of cell culture technology to develop products derived from livestock and poultry." The meeting, which will be held October 23-24, 2018, will focus on "the potential hazards, oversight considerations, and labeling" of the product category. Following a conference hosted by the Good Food Institute, cell-based meat brand representatives reportedly agreed to "abandon the term 'clean meat' in favor of cell-based meat." "We discussed the pros and cons of the term 'clean meat,' and decided to shift our label to 'cell-based meat,'" a conference attendee reportedly told Food Navigator. "Traditional meat companies can be our biggest ally if they want to work with us. We can help them transition from industrial animal agriculture to cell-based meat. Cell-based meat is a better label to bring them on board."