A D.C. court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Deoleo USA Inc.'s "extra virgin" olive oil, finding that the plaintiff failed to state a claim. Fahey v. Deoleo USA Inc., No. 18-2047 (D.D.C., entered November 8, 2018). Deoleo settled a similar lawsuit in March 2018, and the plaintiff "apparently caught wind of this news," the court noted. "Six days after the settlement was publicized, he purchased a bottle of Bertolli EVOO … [and] filed suit some six weeks later." The court did not consider whether the plaintiff was bound by the terms of the settlement because it first found that the plaintiff failed to plead facts that could give rise to a right of relief. The plaintiff "marshals but one 'fact' to substantiate his claim that this defendant deceptively mislabeled the bottle of extra virgin olive [oil that the plaintiff] purchased in 2018: the results of a 2010 study on olive…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Vivaloe beverages are misleadingly marketed as naturally flavored because they contain malic acid. Anderson v. Outernational Brands Inc., No. 18-2550 (S.D. Cal., filed November 6, 2018). The complaint asserts that malic acid is "an inexpensive synthetic chemical used in processed food products to make the products taste like tangy fresh fruits" that "is not naturally-occurring but is in fact manufactured in petrochemical plants from benzene or butane—components of gasoline and lighter fluid, respectively—through a series of chemical reactions, some of which involve highly toxic chemical precursors and byproducts." The plaintiff admits that malic acid is generally recognized as safe for use as flavorings but argues that the d-malic form of malic acid "has never been extensively studied for its health effects in human beings." The plaintiff alleges violations of California consumer-protection statutes and seeks class certification, damages, attorney's fees and…

California residents voted to pass a measure that will require by 2022 that all eggs sold in the state come from cage-free hens. The measure also sets minimums on cage sizes for animals raised for pork and veal production, with calves requiring 43 square feet and pigs 24 square feet. The Legislative Analyst's Office reportedly found that the law will result in price increases for eggs, pork and veal and will cost California as much as $10 million per year to enforce.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the seizure of human and animal food products held by J and L Grocery LLC in insanitary conditions. A complaint filed in Arkansas federal court alleges that September and October 2018 FDA inspections "revealed insanitary conditions including multiple live and dead rodents, rodent nesting, live racoons, live cats, a dead possum, animal feces, and urine-stained products in and around the company’s seven warehouses and sheds used to store food, medical products and cosmetics." “The widespread insanitary conditions found at J and L Grocery is alarming and won’t be tolerated,” a press release quoted FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb as saying. “At this time, we’re unaware of adverse events associated with the use of products purchased at J and L Grocery. The work of our field force and the goals of our vigorous oversight efforts are to find these kinds of potential hazards…

A California federal court has granted partial summary judgment in a class action alleging Keurig Dr Pepper falsely marketed Canada Dry as "Made from Real Ginger." Fitzhenry-Russell v. Keurig Dr Pepper Inc., No. 17-0564 (N.D. Cal., entered November 2, 2018). The court considered the results of multiple consumer surveys aiming to determine whether a reasonable consumer would interpret "Made from Real Ginger" as describing a product that is made from ginger root or a product that is made from ginger oleoresin, a flavoring made from ginger root. The surveys determined that some respondents were confused about the source of the ginger flavor based on Canada Dry's marketing. Finding that an issue of material fact remains, the court denied the motion for summary judgment on that claim. The court then turned to allegations about whether Dr Pepper misled consumers about the levels of ginger in the product. "The label makes no…

A consumer asserts that Miyoko's Kitchen Inc.'s "vegan butter" misleads consumers into believing the product is "a 'form' of butter" despite lacking "any milk or dairy ingredients and the functional, nutritional, sensory and organoleptic attributes which consumers associate with butter." Brown v. Miyoko's Kitchen Inc., No. 18-6079 (E.D.N.Y., filed October 30, 2018). The products "bask in dairy's 'halo' by using familiar terms to invoke positive traits—including the significant levels of various nutrients typically associated with real dairy foods," the complaint alleges. The plaintiff argues that consumers "prefer butter over its imitators" because of its "unique and unduplicated taste," "mouthfeel" and "ability to enhance the texture of and other qualities of (mashed) potato products." "The plant-based Product is not butter because it is derived from coconut (lauric) oil and nut ingredients, among others, and lacks any fat derived from cow's milk," the plaintiff argues. The product meets U.S. Food and Drug…

A consumer has alleged that Iberia Foods misleads consumers by substituting giant squid for octopus in three of its octopus products. Zapata Fonseca v. Iberia Foods Corp., No. 18-6279 (E.D.N.Y., filed November 5, 2018). The plaintiff's putative class action asserts that Iberia and its supplier, Orbe, either knew or should have known that the products were not octopus, which the plaintiff purportedly discovered through third-party DNA testing. "Squid is significantly cheaper and of a lower quality than octopus," the complaint argues. "In fact, the squid undergoes a chemical treatment in order to make it more similar to octopus in its texture. This process also eliminates a very characteristic taste of the dosidicus gigas with chemical substances to obtain a neutral flavor. Additional testing has revealed that this bait-and-switch, and active concealment, is occurring throughout the Orbe Cross-Brand Octopus Products as well." For alleged violations of New York consumer-protection statutes and…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Mott's Applesauce and Apple Juice products are mislabeled as "natural" because they contain traces of an insecticide. Yu v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp. Inc., No. 18-6664 (N.D. Cal., San Jose Div., filed November 1, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that reasonable consumers would not expect to find acetamiprid, a synthetic chemical, in a product labeled as "natural." The complaint echoes a similar lawsuit filed by Beyond Pesticides in May 2017; an amended complaint in that lawsuit was filed in October 2018.

Kervan USA has agreed to change the packaging of its Sunkist fruit snacks and the shape of its candy following a lawsuit filed by Promotion in Motion Inc., which produces Welch's fruit snacks. Promotion in Motion Inc. v. Kervan USA LLC, No. 18-11670 (D.N.J., entered November 6, 2018). Kervan will change the background color of the packages for its fruit snacks to avoid confusion with packages of Welch's fruit snacks, and it will change the shape of its watermelon candies to avoid the use of the "distinctive three-dimensional trapezoid shape" of Promotion in Motion's Sour Jacks. Kervan will also sell off its existing supply of allegedly infringing products and destroy any remaining units after 90 days.

U.K. and U.S. researchers have published a study on "a market-based approach of taxing red and processed meat according to its health impacts." Springmann et al., "Health-motivated taxes on red and processed meat: A modelling study on optimal tax levels and associated health impacts," PLOS One, November 6, 2018. The researchers predict that meat-related health care costs will amount to $285 billion in 2020, and they created a model to determine what level of tax or pricing change would account for the associated costs. They purportedly determined that doubling the price of processed meats and raising the price of red meat by about 20 percent would result in enough revenue to account for costs of the reduced consumption rates that would be associated with a rise in price. “I hope that governments will consider introducing a health levy on red and processed meat as part of a range of measures…

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