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

The Hawaii Legislature has passed a bill banning the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos and prohibiting restricted-use pesticides near schools. The legislation would prohibit the use of chlorpyrifos beginning January 1, 2019, but allow for the grant of temporary extensions through 2022. Hawaii's Department of Agriculture will also be required to produce a summary of pesticide use by county. The bill has been forwarded to Governor David Ige for approval.

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that Perdue Farms Inc. modify or discontinue broadcast and YouTube advertisements for the company’s Harvestland Organic chicken, finding the ads could mislead consumers into believing all Perdue chicken is organically raised. NAD found that the company's “Free Range” and “All-Veggie Diet” ads featured “general brand references” to Perdue but only “momentary visual references to Harvestland Organic," potentially leading consumers to conflate the two. The ads, which asserted that Perdue's chickens are"happy," also “clearly stated the general claim, ‘Perdue, raising more organic chickens than anyone in America,’” NAD noted. The board further cited a consumer-perception survey submitted by Perdue, finding that “the survey showed that substantially more respondents took away a message about the Perdue brand, generally." "NAD recommended that the advertiser discontinue the broadcast and YouTube commercials or modify them – including the YouTube description copy – to make clear that the advertising pertains…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed amending the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances to approve elemental sulfur for use in organic livestock production as a topical parasiticide for fleas, ticks and mites. The proposal would also reclassify potassium acid tartrate from a non-agricultural substance to an agricultural substance and require use of the ingredient's organic form when commercially available. Public comment on the proposed rule must be received by June 29, 2018.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced a change to the common name "brown king crabmeat," derived from Lithodes aequispinus. Effective May 3, 2018, the common and usual name for crabmeat previously described as "brown king crabmeat" has been changed to “golden king crabmeat.” The compliance date for the changes is January 1, 2020.

Plaintiffs in California and New York have filed a putative class action alleging Clif Bar & Co. “omits, intentionally distracts from, and otherwise downplays" the "high added sugar content” of Clif Classic and Clif Kid bars. Milan v. Clif Bar & Co., No. 18-2354 (N.D. Cal., filed April 19, 2018). The complaint asserts that the bars contain high amounts of added sugar—“a chronic liver toxin”—and alleges that excess sugar consumption can lead to several conditions, including metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, high triglycerides and hypertension. The plaintiffs allege that Clif “employs a strategic marketing campaign intended to appeal to customers interested in healthful foods in order to increase sales and profits, despite that the high-sugar bars are detrimental to health.” By emphasizing “nutritious” and “organic” ingredients as well as the lack of high-fructose corn syrup and genetically modified organisms, the company allegedly fails to disclose that Clif Classic and…

The maker of Jack Daniel’s has filed suit against two Texas companies alleging they infringed the Tennessee whiskey’s trademark and trade dress by selling a line of whiskies in similarly shaped bottles with similar labeling. Jack Daniel’s Props., Inc., v. Dynasty Spirits, Inc., No. 18-2400 (N.D. Cal., filed April 20, 2018). The complaint alleges that Tennessee whiskey has been sold under the Jack Daniel’s mark “continuously since 1875, except during Prohibition” and is sold in a “square bottle with angled shoulders, beveled corners, and a ribbed neck, a black cap, a black neck wrap closure with white printing bearing the OLD NO. 7 mark, and a label with a white on black color scheme bearing the JACK DANIEL’S mark depicted in arched lettering at the top of the label [] and the word ‘Tennessee’ depicted in script.” The competitor whiskies “all feature a square bottle with angled shoulders, beveled corners…

A vintner has filed a lawsuit alleging Colorado's “wine development fee,” charged to wholesalers, is an unconstitutional excise tax. Vineland Corp. v. Colorado, No. 18-30199 (Colo. D.C., filed April 24, 2018). Since 1990, Colorado has imposed a 10-year renewable excise tax of one cent per liter on all vinous liquors sold in the state. In 1992, the state passed the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), which mandated advance voter approval for extension of expiring taxes; in 1997, the legislature amended the 1990 act, renaming the excise tax a “wine development fee.” The plaintiff seeks declaratory judgment that the fee is “an impermissible attempt to extend an expiring tax without voter approval, and that this attempt to rename an excise tax surcharge [] without such voter approval is a violation of TABOR.” Further, the plaintiff seeks injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and a refund of all fees paid in the past four fiscal…

Kellogg Co. faces a putative class action alleging its Salt & Vinegar Pringles are mislabeled as containing “No Artificial Flavors” because the nutrition label identifies two artificial ingredients. Marotto v. Kellogg Co., No. 18-3545 (S.D.N.Y., filed April 20, 2018). The complaint asserts that although both sodium diacetate and malic acid can occur in nature, the sodium diacetate used in the product is “a synthetic industrial chemical manufactured in a chemical refinery from carbon monoxide and industrial methanol" while the malic acid is “d-1-malic acid . . . manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane.” Alleging unfair and deceptive business practices, false advertising and misrepresentation, the plaintiff seeks class certification, corrective advertising, damages and attorney’s fees. In March 2018, a federal court in California refused to dismiss a similar lawsuit against Kellogg, finding the plaintiffs had adequately pleaded reasonable customer confusion.

A Missouri federal court has denied Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.’s motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging Canada Dry Ginger Ale is falsely labeled because it does not contain ginger. Webb v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp. Inc., No. 17-0624 (W.D. Mo., entered April 25, 2018). The plaintiff alleged that although the labeling, packaging and marketing of the product includes the statement “Made from Real Ginger,” independent laboratory testing found no detectable ginger in the beverage. The lawsuit echoes similar putative class actions filed in California. The Missouri court rejected all of Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s arguments, finding the plaintiff had adequately pleaded each of the seven counts alleged, including violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, fraud and intentional misrepresentation.

The French Parliament has reportedly voted to prohibit the use of meat and dairy terms to describe plant-based substitutes such as vegetarian sausage or vegan bacon. The measure follows a 2017 European Court of Justice ruling that plant-based products cannot be marketed with terms such as “milk” or “butter.” Violations of the ban may lead to fines of up to €300,000.

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