A California federal court has partially certified a class of consumers that alleges Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. misled them into believing that their products were free of artificial flavoring but contained malic acid. Hilsley v. Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., No. 17-2335 (S.D. Cal., entered November 29, 2018). The court first found that the proposed class met the requirements of typicality, numerosity, commonality and adequacy of the class representative before focusing on the predominance issue for the breach of express warranty and breach of implied warranty allegations. The plaintiff asserted that damages for those allegations could be determined with a survey that apparently identified the price premium that consumers would pay based on the "no artificial flavors" representation. Ocean Spray argued that the "proposed damages model is fatally flawed" because of the use of "diverse comparative products, retailing concepts, juice percentages and an irrelevant specific time period," and the court agreed,…

A California federal court has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Sanderson Farms Inc. misleads consumers about the presence of antibiotics in its chickens. Friends of the Earth v. Sanderson Farms Inc., No. 17-3592 (N.D. Cal., entered December 3, 2018). The plaintiffs—several advocacy groups—assert that Sanderson's marketing misleads consumers into believing that its chickens are raised without antibiotics, while Sanderson argues that its labeling, advertisements and website communicate to consumers that the chicken products they purchase do not contain antibiotics. "Sanderson argues its infographic on its '100% Natural' webpage contains only true statements: it shows what ingredients are not added to the chicken and says nothing about antibiotic use or nonuse," the court stated. "Defendant appears to make an expressio unius argument: that because antibiotics are not included in the list of excluded artificial ingredients, a reasonable consumer could not conclude that antibiotics are also excluded. As…

In a summary order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has affirmed a lower court's judgment in favor of Monini North America in a lawsuit alleging that consumers were misled about the truffle content of the company's truffle-flavored oil. Jessani v. Monini N. Am. Inc., No. 17-2504 (2nd Cir., entered December 3, 2018). "According to plaintiffs, truffles are the most expensive food in the world," the court stated. "In this context, representations that otherwise might be ambiguous and misleading are not: it is simply not plausible that a significant portion of the general consuming public acting reasonably would conclude that Monini’s mass produced, modestly-priced olive oil was made with 'the most expensive food in the world.' [] This is particularly so given that the product’s ingredient list contains no reference to the word 'truffle' and the primary label describes the product only as being 'Truffle Flavored.' Accordingly,…

A consumer has alleged that Nuts 'N More LLC's White Chocolate Peanut Spread does not contain the amount of milkfat required to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) definition of "white chocolate." Morrison v. Nuts 'N More LLC, No. 18-11192 (S.D.N.Y., filed November 30, 2018). According to the complaint, FDA requires white chocolate to contain "not less than 3.5 percent by weight of milkfat," but the white chocolate spread does not contain any dairy ingredients. "Because there is no additional milkfat to supplement the Product to meet FDA definition of white chocolate, the Product cannot be marketed as white chocolate and thus must be deemed imitation white chocolate," the plaintiff asserts. She alleges that she and other consumers paid a premium for what she believed to be white chocolate "and received an inferior Product than what was represented to them by Defendant." For alleged violations of New York…

A consumer has filed a putative class action challenging La Lechonera Products Inc.'s "all natural" and "no preservatives" representations on its marinade packaging, alleging that the presence of citric acid and canola oil in the product preclude the company from making those marketing claims. Williams v. La Lechonera Prods. Inc., No. 2018-39361-CA-01 (Fla Cir. Ct., 11th Jud. Dist., filed November 26, 2018). The complaint asserts that canola oil and citric acid are substantially processed and synthetic ingredients. The plaintiff alleges that La Lechonera injured him and other consumers in 14 ways, including that the consumers "paid a sum of money for Products that were not as represented," "ingested a substance that Plaintiff and other members of the Class did not expect or consent to," "were denied the benefit of truthful food labels," and "were forced unwittingly to support an industry that contributes to environmental, ecological, and/or health damage." The plaintiff…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reallocated responsibilities between its agencies, resulting in the elimination of the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). The Agricultural Marketing Service will absorb GIPSA's previous responsibilities as well as some program areas formerly overseen by the Farm Service Agency. The rule took effect November 29, 2018, finalizing changes initially announced in September 2017.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued a scientific opinion on "the occurrence and control of three parasites that may be transmitted via food, namely Cryptosporidium spp., Toxoplasma gondii, and Echinococcus spp.," which cause the diseases "cryptosporidiosis, toxoplasmosis, and alveolar echinococcosis (AE) and cystic echinococcosis (CE), respectively." EFSA identified "many gaps in our knowledge of food‐borne transmission of the three parasites" but suggested that "consumer preferences for raw, fresh produce may contribute to increasing the likelihood of infection." EFSA further noted that commercial washing of fresh produce, "particularly with the reuse of washwater, may spread localised contamination throughout a batch," resulting in contamination of ready-to-eat produce. EFSA also researched the prevalence of contamination in meat, finding that "consumer preferences for animals raised with access to outdoor conditions, for not freezing meat prior to consumption, and for eating meat raw or rare may increase the likelihood of exposure to infective…

Vox Media's podcast The Impact has examined New York City's and Chicago's approaches to combating obesity, including Chicago's imposition of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs). A reporter first speaks to employees of an initiative in New York that encourages corner-store owners to stock more healthy foods, and she finds that the results have been middling. The podcast then turns to Chicago's tax on SSBs, which was enforced for two months before it was repealed. "The Cook County soda tax became so toxic that nobody wants to talk about it anymore," the reporter reveals. "This was by far the hardest episode of our season to report because people kept turning down my interview requests. I asked six different county commissioners to talk to me for this story. Five of them said no." "Right now, there isn't great evidence that healthy corner store initiatives have a big impact on obesity. There's…

The Associated Press has detailed the efforts of Recombinetics, a company that develops genetically engineered (GE) animals, to seek regulatory and public approval of its work. The company CEO reportedly told the news outlet that it aims to assuage fears about GE animals by focusing on how they can help ease animal pain, such as breeding cows without horns so that farmers can stop removing the horns to keep the cows from harming each other. This approach has apparently led to some support among animal-welfare groups; the Humane Society of the United States supports GE pigs bred to no longer require castration, AP reports, although the organization does not give "blanket approval" for the technology. "If you edit for your chicken to be the size of an elephant, that's not good," the organization's vice president of farm animal protection reportedly said.

The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has filed a lawsuit alleging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has failed to act on the organization's 2014 petition seeking certification for labeling claims about animal welfare and environmental stewardship during the meat and poultry production process. Animal Welfare Inst. v. USDA, No. 18-2621 (D.D.C., filed November 14, 2018). AWI's petition asserted that meat and poultry producers market food products as "humanely raised," made with "sustainable agricultural products," "raised in a stress free environment" and other similar claims despite allegedly exposing animals to "intensive confinement, barren and stressful housing conditions, and painful mutilations in order to increase production." AWI argues for the establishment of a certification program to verify marketing claims about animal welfare. According the complaint, USDA has not yet taken action on AWI's petition, allegedly resulting in an "unreasonable delay" in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.

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