A California state court has certified a class challenging the source and grade of Safeway Inc.’s olive-oil products, which are labeled as “extra virgin” and “Imported from Italy” despite being manufactured from olives grown and pressed outside that country. Kumar v. Safeway Inc., No. RG14726707 (Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda Cty., order entered May 24, 2016). The plaintiff proposed two classes: one composed of consumers who purchased the products relying on the “extra virgin” label and another with consumers who relied on the “Imported from Italy” claims. The court assessed the classes in accordance with each requirement—ascertainability, commonality, typicality, adequacy and superiority—and found the plaintiff’s class definitions demonstrably met each standard. “Defendant’s argument that Plaintiff is required to demonstrate that class members have a common understanding of what ‘extra virgin’ means is unsupported by the authorities cited, and is not well taken,” the court noted.

The plaintiff also leads a challenge against Filippo Berio on similar claims. Details about that case appear in Issues 554 and 590 of this Update.

 

Issue 606

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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