A D.C. Superior Court has denied Smithfield Foods' motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging it misleads consumers by marketing its products as "safer pork." Organic Consumers Assn. v. Smithfield Foods Inc., No. 2020 CA 2566 B (D.C. Super. Ct., entered December 14, 2020). The lawsuit, filed by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), alleged that Smithfield "employs production practices that result in less-safe conditions, effects, and Products, including the routine preventative use of medically important antibiotics, crowded conditions, the use of potentially carcinogenic drugs, and rapid slaughter methods." The court disagreed with Smithfield's argument that the marketing statements were puffery or "too general to be actionable," finding that the statements Smithfield made about its safety were specific. Further, OCA's "allegations about consumer understanding are plausible," the court held, because the complaint cited sources "stating that food safety is an issue of significant concern to consumers" and studies showing "that a 'reasonable consumer'…

A plaintiff has filed a putative class action alleging Dietz & Watson Inc. misleads consumers by naming its product "Smoked Provolone Cheese" when the cheese's smoky flavor comes from "smoke flavor" rather than "slow cooking over a fire of wood chips." Jones v. Dietz & Watson Inc., No. 20-6018 (E.D.N.Y., filed December 9, 2020). The plaintiff alleges the cheese should be labeled "Natural Smoke Flavored Provolone Cheese" under U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations on characterizing flavors. "Even if consumers were to view the ingredient list, a reasonable consumer would have no reason to know that listing 'smoke flavor' forecloses the possibility the Product was also subject to some smoking," the complaint asserts. "However, the Product has not undergone any real smoking, which is deceptive and misleading to consumers." The plaintiff alleges violations of New York's consumer-protection statutes, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, fraud and negligent misrepresentation.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the approval of GalSafe pigs, which have a "first-of-its-kind intentional genomic alteration (IGA)," for use in food. "This is the first IGA in an animal that the FDA has approved for both human food consumption and as a source for potential therapeutic uses," the announcement states. "The IGA in GalSafe pigs is intended to eliminate alpha-gal sugar on the surface of the pigs’ cells. People with Alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) may have mild to severe allergic reactions to alpha-gal sugar found in red meat (e.g., beef, pork, and lamb)." FDA reportedly found that "food from Galsafe pigs is safe for the general population to eat" and that the potential impact of the pigs is no greater than from conventional pigs.

In an effort to remove regulations no longer "necessary to ensure that these products meet consumer expectations," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to revoke the standards of identity and quality for frozen cherry pie and French dressing. "The proposal is part of the FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy," constituent updates on the proposed revocations state. "One of the goals of the NIS is to modernize food standards to maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods. The FDA believes it is important to take a fresh look at existing standards of identity in light of marketing trends and the latest nutritional science." The agency's Fall 2020 agenda also indicated an intention to amend the standard of identity for yogurt and revoke the standards of identity for lowfat and nonfat yogurt, but that final rule has…

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has partially granted a petition filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) about the use of "No Nitrate or Nitrite Added" and "Uncured" on labels for "products that have been processed using any source of nitrates or nitrites." FSIS indicated in its response letter to CSPI that it will issue a rulemaking proposing the regulation of such phrases but noted, "However, rather than requiring disclosure statements about the use of nitrate or nitrites on labels of meat and poultry products, as requested in the petition, FSIS intends to propose to amend and clarify its meat and poultry labeling regulations to establish new definitions for 'Cured' and 'Uncured.' The basis for these proposed changes would be discussed in detail in the proposed rule, which is listed in the Fall 2020 Semiannual Regulatory Agenda, with a tentative…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued final guidance on the use of potassium chloride on food labels. The guidance advises "food manufacturers of its intent to exercise enforcement discretion for the name 'potassium salt' in the ingredient statement on food labels as an alternative to 'potassium chloride' to better inform consumers that it is a salt substitute." "Potassium chloride, in some instances, can be used as a partial substitute for sodium chloride (referred to as 'salt') in food processing and manufacturing," the constituent update notes. "Providing this enforcement discretion may help facilitate consumers’ choices to decrease their sodium consumption, if manufacturers use potassium chloride as a substitute ingredient for some sodium chloride."

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Inventure Foods Inc., which produces the T.G.I. Friday's line of frozen foods, produces its "mozzarella sticks" with cheddar. Nason v. Inventure Foods Inc., No. 20-10141 (S.D.N.Y., filed December 3, 2020). The plaintiff cites the ingredient list, which lists only cheddar and not mozzarella, and asserts that "cheddar is a 'hard' cheese less suitable for chewing and lacks the dairy taste of real mozzarella." The complaint further argues that "mozzarella is more nutritious because it contains more calcium and less fat and calories than cheddar." The plaintiff alleges violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, New York's consumer-protection statutes and negligent misrepresenation.

A plaintiff has filed a putative class action alleging Diestel Turkey Ranch falsely markets its turkeys as "thoughtfully raised on sustainable family farms with plenty of fresh air and space to roam." Wetzel v. Diestel Turkey Ranch, No. 20-1213 (D.N.M., filed November 19, 2020). The plaintiff argues that Diestel "sources the overwhelming majority of its turkeys from growers outside of Sonora, California, at typical factory farms [], where turkeys are raised in large, overcrowded metal sheds that lack sufficient space to engage in natural behaviors and are often mired in manure and slaughterhouse waste—i.e., not ranches or ranch-like conditions depicted at the Sonora Ranch." The plaintiff alleges violations of New Mexico's false advertising law. Cargill Inc. faces similar allegations in a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission by several advocacy groups. "Cargill makes numerous representations that lead consumers to believe the turkeys used in its Products are raised by 'independent family…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned Frito-Lay Inc. about "serious violations of the Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food regulation" because its investigators found potato chips to be misbranded "in that the finished product labels did not declare a major food allergen (milk)" in addition to being "prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health." The warning applied to Ruffles Cheddar & Sour Cream Potato Chips packaged with labels for the wrong type of chips, the Ruffles Original variety, at one facility. At another facility, the company reportedly failed to implement "allergen preventive control procedures to significantly minimize or prevent allergen cross-contact," which require the company to "verify that all visible evidence of prior seasoning is removed" after producing Lay's Limón Flavored Potato Chips.

Singapore has reportedly approved for sale a lab-grown meat product to be sold as "cultured chicken." The product, created by Eat Just, has been approved for use in chicken nuggets following a safety assessment submitted to the Singapore Food Agency's "novel food" working group. The cultured chicken will reportedly sell for a price comparable to animal-derived chicken nuggets and will be available "soon enough to begin making a reservation" at an unnamed restaurant, according to Eat Just founder Josh Tetrick.

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