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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released several reports and guidance documents on food-related issues, including draft guidance on reasonable serving sizes and a report on foodborne illnesses in restaurants. Food Labeling: Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One Eating Occasion, Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed, Serving Size-Related Issues, Dual-Column Labeling, and Miscellaneous Topics. This draft guidance details how food companies determine reasonable serving sizes for the nutritional panels on their products. Comments submitted before January 4, 2019, will be considered before FDA begins working on the final version of the guidance. Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: Questions and Answers Related to the Compliance Date, Added Sugars, and Declaration of Quantitative Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals; Guidance for Industry. FDA has provided a series of questions and answers on quantifying added sugars, vitamins and minerals. Several questions focus specifically on calculating added sugars in fruit juices…

A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that he contracted Salmonella from beef supplied to a restaurant by JBS Tolleson Inc. Rozich v. JBS Tolleson Inc., No. 18-1929 (D. Nev., filed October 8, 2018). The plaintiff alleges his infection stemmed from an outbreak of Salmonella that resulted in JBS recalling nearly seven million pounds of beef on October 4, 2018. The complaint cites a July 2017 notice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service purportedly alleging a JBS facility president enabled “‘egregious’ and ‘inhumane’ practices with livestock.” The plaintiff seeks damages and costs for allegations of strict product liability, negligence and breach of warranty.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued draft guidance on the release of retailer information during the food-recall process. The guidance indicates when the agency may find that identifying retailers is necessary during Class I recalls—"recalls where there is a reasonable probability that the use of, or exposure to, the food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals"—as well as a limited number of Class II recalls associated with foodborne illness outbreaks. "Assisting food producers in having effective recall practices in place, as well as taking immediate action to address unsafe products, are high priorities of mine," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "Our recall authorities – and how we deploy them – are a cornerstone of our vital consumer protection mission."

A woman has filed a lawsuit alleging she was hospitalized after eating Salmonella-contaminated eggs from Rose Acre Farms Inc. Roberts v. Rose Acre Farms, Inc., No. 18-61082 (S.D. Fla., filed May 14, 2018). The plaintiff alleges that she purchased eggs packaged by Coburn Farms, a Sav-A-Lot Food Stores brand, and became ill enough to require two hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked Rose Acre Farms eggs to a nine-state outbreak of Salmonella infections. Claiming strict product liability, breach of warranty, negligence and negligence per se, the plaintiff seeks damages and attorney’s fees.

An Ohio poultry facility linked to the latest egg recall over Salmonella-contamination concerns was reportedly the recipient of a $125 million investment by Austin “Jack” DeCoster, the man who owned the two Iowa farms linked to the August 2010 recall of 550 million potentially contaminated eggs. The Ohio Agriculture Department apparently indicated earlier this year that DeCoster was still an investor in Ohio Fresh Eggs. The latest recall involves nearly 300,000 eggs distributed in eight states. While no confirmed illnesses have been linked to the eggs, egg seller Cal-Maine, Inc. reportedly said “consumers who believe they may have purchased potentially affected shell eggs should not eat them.” According to a news source, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked the August outbreak to at least 1,600 illnesses. DeCoster was called before a House oversight subcommittee in September and apologized for the incident, saying “We were horrified to learn that…

Nestlé Prepared Foods Co. has filed a complaint against the suppliers of ingredients for its Lean Cuisine® frozen meals, which it was apparently forced to recall when it learned that some of the meals were contaminated with foreign, hard blue plastic pieces. Nestlé Prepared Foods Co. v. Nat’l Food Trading Corp., No. 10-1077 (D. Utah, filed October 29, 2010). According to the complaint, the plastic pieces were mixed into the sun-dried tomatoes that defendants sold to Nestlé. Customer complaints purportedly alerted Nestlé to the contamination, and “[a]t least one consumer reported an injury caused by the hard blue plastic materials.” Recalling some 880,000 pounds of frozen meals allegedly caused Nestlé to incur “substantial losses, including, but not limited to, refunds to customers, the value of the recalled meals, the value of the unusable sun dried tomatoes, cancelled orders, and the costs of shipping, storage, plant operations, and investigation, as well as…

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) has ordered a San Antonio produce plant to stop processing food and recall all products shipped since January 2010 because “laboratory tests of chopped celery from the plant indicated the presence of Listeria monocytogenes.” DSHS has prohibited Sangar Fresh Cut Produce from reopening without approval from the department, which issues such orders when conditions pose “an immediate and serious threat to human life or health,” according to an October 20, 2010, DSHS press release. After an eight-month investigation into a Listeriosis outbreak that included five deaths, DSHS allegedly linked Sangar’s chopped celery to six illnesses in people “with serious underlying health problems.” State inspectors also reportedly “found sanitation issues at the plant and believe the Listeria found in the chopped celery may have contaminated other food product there.” The recall primarily affects fresh produce sealed in packages and distributed “to restaurants and…

A federal court in California has reportedly dismissed claims that ConAgra Foods, Inc. provided inadequate cooking instructions on its chicken pot pie products. Meaunrit v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., No. 09-02220 (N.D. Cal., decided July 20, 2010). More than 250 people purportedly got sick after eating the company’s pot pies in 2007 in a Salmonella outbreak that led to a nationwide recall. The named plaintiff in this putative class action apparently did not get sick, but claimed that the company put human health at risk by providing inadequate cooking instructions too difficult for the average consumer to understand. She also alleged that the company’s production facilities subjected consumers to food borne illnesses by failing to adequately prevent bacterial contamination of its products. According to the court, federal agencies pre-approved ConAgra’s product labeling and, “[b]ecause the pre-approval process includes a determination of whether the labeling is false and misleading, and the gravamen of…

U.S. Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) has requested that the Kellogg Co. provide documentation to the Committee on Energy and Commerce concerning the possible contamination of millions of cereal boxes with the chemical 2-methylnaphthalene. In his August 2, 2010, letter, Waxman refers to the June recall of more than 25 million boxes of “Corn Pops, Honey Smacks, Fruit Loops, and Apple Jacks cereal” and notes that while at least one study has shown the chemical at issue “may cause lung injuries in adults[, t]here are no studies indicating whether children are more susceptible.” Waxman cites a news article indicating that Kellogg destroyed tainted packaging before issuing the recall, and he seeks documents relating to (i) the company’s food safety policies and procedures; (ii) “any assessments of the health risks posed by 2-methylnaphthalene conducted by, commissioned by, or requested by your company, including a copy of the health risk assessment created by…

This article examines the fallout from Kellogg Co.’s recall of 28 million cereal boxes that, according to a public statement, contained “elevated levels of hydrocarbons, including methyl naphthalene, normally found in the paraffin wax and film in the liners.” The company voluntarily pulled the products after receiving complaints about an “off-flavor and smell,” which caused nausea and other gastrointestinal ailments in some consumers. Schor highlights the failure of Congress to pass reform measures that would allow the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue mandatory recalls. “[T]he legislation sits in limbo in the upper chambers as industry groups chafe at Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) bid to ban another chemical with an unclear safety history, bisphenol A, from food containers,” she writes. Citing a recent Environmental Working Group (EWG) report that underscores the potential toxicity of methyl naphthalene, Schor raises questions about the overall safety of food packaging. EWG has “urged…

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