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The National Toxicology Program, part of the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has issued for peer review a draft research report of a two-year study of the effects of bisphenol A (BPA) on rats. According to a press release issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the study was conducted by senior scientists at FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research as part of a collaborative effort by FDA and the National Institutes of Health to investigate concerns about possible developmental effects of relatively low exposure to BPA. FDA reports that it found “minimal effects” of BPA on rats but identified areas that “may merit further research, such as the increase in occurrence of mammary gland tumors at one of the five doses.” FDA also noted that its “comprehensive review” of the report supports the agency’s determination that currently authorized uses…

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has sent a letter to Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), calling for an investigation into the use of phthalates in food and fast-food packaging. Citing a Journal of American Medicine Association Pediatrics report, Schumer argues that the health risks of phthalates are known but FDA has done little to protect the public. “Consumers are not giving these everyday packaging products a second thought,” Schumer said in a July 30, 2017, press release. “They assume they are safe—and they should be, especially when their reach extends to millions upon millions of Americans. So, the FDA must take my order for a fast food packaging investigation very seriously and take this long-sitting health data off the backburner.”   Issue 643

Sugarfina, maker of “luxury boutique” candies, has filed a trademark, copyright, patent and trade dress infringement suit against Sweet Pete’s alleging the competitor relied “heavily on several design elements of Sugarfina’s distinctive packaging and marketing” of Cuba Libre®, Peach Bellini®, Fruttini, Candy Cube, Candy Concierge and Candy Bento Box® products. Sugarfina v. Sweet Pete’s, No. 17-­4456 (C.D. Cal., filed June 15, 2017). Sugarfina asserts that Sweet Pete’s copied the names, “size, shape, color or color combinations, texture, graphics and sales techniques” of all six named product lines that Sugarfina packages in “museum­-quality Lucite.” Sugarfina further argues that Sweet Pete’s was “a failing business prior to its radical transformation into a Sugarfina copycat.” The plaintiff seeks an injunction, treble damages, corrective advertising and attorney’s fees.   Issue 639

A plaintiff’s “cursory, formulaic recitation” of her purchase of Jelly Belly Candy Co.'s Sport Beans did not include enough factual allegations to establish a claim for relief, a California federal court has ruled. Gomez v. Jelly Belly Candy Co., No. 17-­0575 (C.D. Cal., order entered June 8, 2017). The plaintiff had alleged the candy maker’s use of the term “evaporated cane juice” (ECJ) on the packaging misled her about the product's sugar content. Additional details on the complaint appear in Issue 629 of this Update. “Absent from the Complaint are any factual allegations concerning the circumstances of Gomez’s purchase of the product, how she intended to use the product, whether she in fact expected a sugar-free product, whether she thought ‘evaporated cane juice’ was juice as opposed to sugar, and whether she consumed the product,” the court said, granting Jelly Belly's motion to dismiss. However, the court ruled that Gomez…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) denied a citizen petition to ban the use of perchlorates in dry food packaging while revoking regulations permitting the use of potassium perchlorate in food­-container seals, saying industry makers no longer use the chemical. FDA said it will amend food additive regulations allowing the use of potassium perchlorate as a component in sealing gaskets for food containers. Trade groups petitioned for the change, arguing that plastics manufacturers have stopped using the compound. The following day, FDA rejected a petition from public interest groups seeking to ban use of potassium perchlorate and sodium perchlorate monohydrate in dry food packaging and requesting that the agency issue new regulations prohibiting use of perchlorates in packaging. Neither request was “the proper subject of a food additive petition,” the agency stated, but the groups could petition to revoke or reevaluate the Threshold of Regulation exemption.   Issue 633

Kraft Heinz Foods faces a trade-­secret suit alleging it distributed documents containing confidential and proprietary drawings and specifications for plastic caps created by one of its long­-time vendors. AptarGroup, Inc. v. Kraft Heinz Foods Co., No. 17­521 (W.D. Pa., filed April 21, 2017). AptarGroup argues that Kraft distributed engineering and customer drawings providing detailed specifications for its bottle cap and closure designs documents after removing Aptar’s logos and confidentiality warnings. Aptar also asserts that among other disclosures, Kraft released specifications for its “breakthrough” snap-­top cap used for Heinz’ inverted, top­-down ketchup bottles. The complaint alleges that previous disclosures have included only “one or two ornamental designs, with no detailed specifications, and that Aptar notified Kraft of their breach of contract and asked Kraft to demand the return of the confidential information from all recipients. Claiming trade secret misappropriation and breach of contract, Aptar seeks a temporary restraining order, injunctive relief,…

The California legislature is considering a bill to make the state the first in the nation to ban perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from restaurant food wrappers and containers. The bill proposes that food providers “shall not serve, sell, offer for sale, or offer for promotional purposes prepared food or fast food in, on, or with take-­out foodservice ware or packaging that contains a fluorinated chemical.” The bill has been referred to the Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials and set for hearing on April 25, 2017. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scientists do not have enough information to evaluate the health effects of exposure to per-­ and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—a group of materials to which PFCs belong—although some studies have allegedly shown that PFAS may affect the growth of fetuses, decrease fertility and interfere with normal hormonal function, among other possible effects. Exposure to PFAS…

A consumer has filed a putative class action against Ferrara Candy Co. claiming that its packaging of Jujyfruits and other candies misleads consumers by misrepresenting the amount of candy contained in each box. Iglesias v. Ferrara Candy Co., No. 17-­0849 (N.D. Cal., filed February 21, 2017). The plaintiff claims that Ferrara “shortchanges consumers” by under­filling its opaque candy boxes. In movie theaters, where boxed candies are sold, the boxes are kept behind glass showcases, the complaint asserts, and consumers have no opportunity to examine net weight, serving disclosures or other labeling until after paying for the candy. Moreover, the plaintiff claims that consumers’ purchasing decisions are heavily dependent on product packaging and that “consumers are apt to choose the larger box because they think it’s a better value.” The action includes other candy lines manufactured by Ferrara, including Lemonhead , RedHots , Chuckles , Brach’s and Atomic Fireball products. For…

Concerns about how or whether the term “healthy” should be used in food labeling and packaging prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to hold a public comment meeting on the issue on March 9, 2017. Current FDA regulations allow the use of the term “healthy,” as well as similar terms, as implied nutrient-­content claims. However, the criteria for use vary for different food categories, and the criteria themselves are linked to elements of the nutrition facts panel and serving size regulations—both of which have undergone significant changes in recent years. FDA also received a citizen petition in 2015 from Kind LLC, a producer and distributor of snack bars, requesting the agency amend its regulations defining the use of the term with respect to total fat intake and emphasizing whole foods and dietary patterns instead of specific nutrients. Accordingly, FDA’s 2016 publication of “Use of the Term ‘Healthy’ in…

Two people have been convicted of conspiracy in charges related to a scheme to distribute counterfeit 5-Hour Energy drinks. United States v. Shayota, No. 15-0264 (N.D. Cal., verdict entered November 28, 2016). The couple, Joseph and Adriana Shayota, produced several million bottles of a drink manufactured under unsanitary conditions and labeled the drink with 5-Hour Energy's packaging. Before beginning that scheme, the couple reportedly bought 5-Hour Energy drinks intended for the Mexican market, repackaged them and sold them in the United States for a price well below the retail price. Six other defendants pleaded guilty to similar charges, and 5-Hour Energy maker Living Essentials won a $20-million civil judgment in March 2016. See Los Angeles Times, November 30, 2016.   Issue 624

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