Posts By Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.

Following a California settlement, Amazon has reportedly agreed to stop selling foie gras produced from force-fed ducks and geese. The settlement between the company and Los Angeles County stems from a lawsuit alleging that Amazon violated a 2004 California law banning the sale of the products. Under the agreement, Amazon will not sell—or allow its third-party sellers to offer for sale—force-fed foie gras in California for five years. A lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ban awaits a ruling on certiorari from the U.S. Supreme Court after the Ninth Circuit found that the statute was not preempted by the Poultry Products Inspection Act.

The Second Circuit has reversed a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit alleging that Kellogg Co. misleads consumers by marketing its Cheez-Its as “made with whole grain.” Mantikas v. Kellogg Co., No. 17-2011 (2nd Cir., entered December 11, 2018). The lower court had agreed with Kellogg that the “made with whole grain” label was factually accurate and would not mislead reasonable consumers, and it dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. “Although the district court is correct that an allegedly misleading statement must be viewed ‘in light of its context on the product label or advertisement as a whole,’ [] the court misapplied that principle to Plaintiffs’ claims in this case,” the court held. “Plaintiffs’ core allegation is that the statements ‘Whole Grain’ and ‘Made With Whole Grain’ are misleading because they communicate to the reasonable consumer that the grain in the product is predominantly, if not entirely,…

An Illinois federal court has dismissed a putative class action alleging that Fannie May Confections Brands Inc. underfills its Mint Meltaways and Pixies candy boxes. Benson v. Fannie May Confections Brands Inc., No. 17-3519 (N.D. Ill., E. Div., entered December 10, 2018). The court previously dismissed the plaintiffs’ complaint on the grounds that it provided “bare-bones” factual allegations and failed to allege a claim that would not be preempted by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The court dismissed the plaintiffs’ argument that Fannie May’s 14-ounce boxes contained less slack fill than its seven-ounce boxes, the subject of the complaint. “This type of comparison tells the Court nothing about the slack-fill in the containers in question,” the court found. “The fact that a different container is filled to a different level is not only unsurprising, it is what one would expect.” The court compared the plaintiffs’ allegations with those…

A Los Angeles councilperson has reportedly introduced a motion that would require entertainment venues and other establishments to offer at least one “vegan protein option” in an effort to combat climate change. The motion cites “several studies which suggest a link between the meat and dairy industry and the environment, including a University of Oxford study that found if more people in the United States adopted plant-based eating it could cut greenhouse-gas emissions from food sources by 70 percent,” according to CBS Los Angeles. The proposal would hold city departments accountable for offering vegan options at city-operated venues such as zoos and parks.

Oklahoma’s Board of Health has unanimously approved recommendations from the state’s Medical Marijuana Food Safety Standards Board on health and safety requirements for producing cannabis-infused foods, according to Tulsa World. The standards incorporate existing state food regulations but will add stricter criteria and tests, including testing for cannabinoid potency, heavy-metals levels and chemical residues.

The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has declined to take action against Bacardi-Martini Ltd. following a complaint that its television ad “was irresponsible because it encouraged immoderate drinking by implying that drinking should take place before and throughout a night out.” In its determination, ASA found that “a sealed bottle of Bacardi rum was shown on several occasions but none of the characters in the ad were shown actually serving or drinking the rum” until the group of characters reaches a bar. “The implication was that the group would drink some of the alcohol during their night out, but we noted that none of the characters shown in the ad seemed to be dancing, moving, or otherwise interacting with each other in a way suggestive of intoxication or excessive alcohol consumption at any point, including in the final scenes,” ASA ruled. “For those reasons we concluded that the ad did…

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has released an opinion proposing a revision to tolerable intakes of per- and polyfluoroalykl substances (PFAS), which food packaging can contain. The authors reportedly observed high levels of PFAS in “meat and meat products” as well as “fish and other seafood.” In addition, PFAS was “detected in blood samples of almost all individuals assessed, demonstrating ubiquitous exposure.”

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,…

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