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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,…

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 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…

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.

As part of a climate package, Denmark has reportedly proposed food labels that would indicate the environmental impact of the food's production. Danish Minister for the Environment Lars Christian Lilleholt reportedly told The Local, "We want to give consumers the means to assess in supermarkets the environmental impact of products." The Danish Agriculture & Food Council supported the measure but suggested that the environmental impact labels may need to consider the nutritional value of a product as well. "A bottle of soda may have a low environmental impact, but it is not a product you can live on," the organization's director is quoted as saying.

Consumers have filed lawsuits alleging that companies misrepresent their products as "natural" because they contain d-malic acid. One lawsuit targets Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., alleging it mislabels its juices as free from artificial flavors despite containing d-malic acid rather than the naturally occurring l-malic acid. Froio v. Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., No. 18-12005 (D. Mass., filed September 24, 2018). The complaint further alleges that the juices contain furmaric acid, which is "manufactured from petrochemical feedstock, either benzene or butane, through chemical transformation to maleic anhydride." The plaintiffs argue that a "reasonable consumer understands Defendant's claims that the Products contain no 'artificial' flavoring to mean that the flavoring is derived from a natural source." For allegations of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and violations of New York and Massachusetts consumer-protection statutes, the plaintiffs seek class certification, damages, injunctive relief, restitution and attorney's fees. Two consumers have alleged that Neurobrands LLC also…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Stremick's Heritage Foods misrepresents its  Kern's juice as a "healthful, natural juice product made solely from fresh fruits" despite being "almost entirely sugar-water, with a small amount of fruit juice added for color and texture." Levin v. Stremick's Heritage Foods, No. 18-1748 (C.D. Cal., filed September 26, 2018). The complaint alleges that the juices "consist of 70% water and high fructose corn syrup, topped with 30% or less of the juice of the fruit for which the Products are named." The complaint also alleges that "pictorial representations" of "life-like" fruits on the packaging mislead consumers about the beverages' juice content. The plaintiff further argues that the products contain "massive amounts of refined sugar. The 'Apricot Nectar' Product, for example, contains 47 grams of sugar per serving—more than Grape Kool-Aid." According to the complaint, the juices are not healthful because excess…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Kind LLC misleadingly markets its products as made from whole fresh fruits. Song v. Kind LLC, No. 18-4982 (E.D.N.Y., filed September 4, 2018). The complaint asserts that the product names and descriptions "use collective names to refer to their components” because they are allegedly made from processed fruit, “by-products or processed derivative ingredients.” The plaintiff also argues that the visual representations on the packaging “emphasize their equivalence to whole fruits.” The complaint further asserts that tropical fruits used in the products are dried using osmotic dehydration, which purportedly treats the fruits with added sugars. In addition, the plaintiff alleges that Kind uses ascorbic acid as a preservative but does not list it among the ingredients. Claiming violations of New York’s General Business Law, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment, the plaintiff seeks class certification, injunctive relief, damages and attorney’s fees.

AriZona Beverages LLC faces a putative class action alleging it misleads consumers by representing the sugar and calorie content of its beverages based on a serving size of eight ounces while its product is sold in 16-ounce cans. Neville v. AriZona Beverages USA LLC, No. 18-5040 (E.D.N.Y., filed September 6, 2018). The complaint asserts that AriZona “engaged in unfair competition to the detriment of consumers by refusing to follow the industry standard which is based upon the size of a can or bottle that a consumer would usually drink in one sitting.” Alleging violations of several state consumer-protection statutes and breach of express warranty, the plaintiff seeks class certification, damages, injunctive or declaratory relief, restitution and attorney’s fees.

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