The California Chamber of Commerce (CalChamber) has filed a lawsuit aiming to prevent the state from “enforcing a requirement to provide a false, misleading, and highly controversial cancer warning for food and beverage [] products that contain the chemical acrylamide.” Cal. Chamber of Commerce v. Becerra, No. 19-0962 (E.D. Cal., filed October 7, 2019). CalChamber asserts that acrylamide “is not intentionally added to foods” but rather “is formed naturally in many types of foods when cooked at high temperatures or otherwise processed with heat.” The complaint argues that although “certain governmental and scientific entities” have identified acrylamide as a carcinogen, “[s]cientific studies in humans, however, have found no reliable evidence that exposure to acrylamide in food products is associated with an increased risk of developing any type of cancer. In fact, epidemiologic evidence suggests that dietary acrylamide—i.e., acrylamide that forms naturally in normal cooking of many food products—does not cause…

An international union and several of its local chapters have filed a lawsuit seeking to compel the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to change its final rule promulgated on October 1, 2019, that eliminates maximum processing speeds and permits processing plants to employ their own health and safety monitors. U. Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local No. 663 v. USDA, No. 19-2660 (D. Minn., filed October 7, 2019). “As thousands of commenters told USDA during the rulemaking process, the Rule will jeopardize the lives and safety of both consumers of pork products and workers like Plaintiffs’ members,” the complaint argues. USDA erroneously dismissed such comments by arguing that it did not have authority to “regulate issues related to establishment worker safety,” the complaint asserts. “For decades, USDA has considered its actions’ impacts on worker safety,” the union argues. “USDA’s failure to consider the impacts of its actions on worker safety…

A Missouri federal court has reportedly declined to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the state from enforcing its law defining meat as derived from animals. The law requires plant-based or laboratory-grown food to feature a label indicating its source. Turtle Island Foods, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Good Food Institute have reportedly appealed the judge’s denial.

An Illinois court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging Kraft Heinz Foods Co. misleads consumers by marketing Capri Sun as free of preservatives despite containing citric acid. Tarzian v. Kraft Heinz Foods Co., No. 18-7148 (N.D. Ill., E. Div., entered October 10, 2019). The court first found that (i) the plaintiffs “failed to allege that the situs of the transactions at issue occurred ‘primarily and substantially’ in Illinois” and dismissed one allegation on behalf of nonresident plaintiffs for lack of standing and (ii) the plaintiffs lacked standing to seek injunctive relief. The court then turned to the argument that Kraft Heinz’ statements about “no artificial preservatives” were false or misleading. “Plaintiffs’ allegations detail the practices commonly used to manufacture citric acid throughout the industry before concluding: ‘Thus, Defendant’s citric acid is artificial.’ That is too great of an inferential leap," the court held. "To satisfy the pleading standards, Plaintiffs need to…

A consumer has filed a putative class action arguing that Dutch Gold Honey Inc. sells honey that lacks the antioxidants for which consumers purchase buckwheat honey, allegedly amounting to fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment. Wolfe v. Dutch Gold Honey Inc., No. 19-4562 (E.D. Penn., filed October 1, 2019). “Unknown to Plaintiff and the Class, the Buckwheat Honey sold by Dutch Gold does not contain the antioxidants that consumers prize in buckwheat honey,” the plaintiff asserts. “Moreover, because Dutch Gold buys honey that has been harvested prematurely, Dutch Gold (or the sources it purchases honey from) must dry the honey out, so it heats its Buckwheat Honey to high temperatures for a long enough time that the antioxidants normally found in buckwheat honey are destroyed.” The plaintiff challenges in particular a statement from Dutch Gold’s website asserting that its buckwheat honey “has been demonstrated to have higher levels of antioxidants than…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published a warning letter it sent in September 2019 to a company selling cannabidiol (CBD) oil as a dietary supplement. “This product is labeled as a dietary supplement; however, it cannot be a dietary supplement because it does not meet the definition of a dietary supplement,” the letter stated. “Under those provisions, if an article (such as CBD) is an active ingredient in a drug product that has been approved [], or has been authorized for investigation as a new drug for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public, then products containing that substance are outside the definition of a dietary supplement. There is an exception if the substance was ‘marketed as’ a dietary supplement or as a conventional food before the new drug investigations were authorized; however, based on available…

The California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) has announced that “virtually all use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos in California will end” in 2020 “following an agreement between the Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and pesticide manufacturers to withdraw their products.” The companies apparently agreed to end sales of chlorpyrifos by February 6, 2020, and growers will not be permitted to use or possess chlorpyrifos after December 31, 2020. Uses before that deadline “must comply with existing restrictions, including a ban on aerial spraying, quarter-mile buffer zones and limiting use to crop-pest combinations that lack alternatives.” “To ensure consistency for growers and for enforcement purposes, DPR is applying the terms and deadlines in the settlements to seven other companies that are not part of the settlement agreement but are subject to DPR’s cancellation orders,” CalEPA’s press release states.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has launched a public consultation on the risks associated with consuming aflatoxins, mycotoxins produced by two species of Aspergillus that “are known to be genotoxic (capable of damaging DNA) and carcinogenic.” Most human exposure to aflatoxins comes from contaminated grains and derived products, although they can also be found in milk, according to the notice. Comments will be accepted until November 15, 2019.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a number of developments in their work on organic food, poultry and food safety. FDA released an update on the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), announcing it will track outcomes for FSMA rules for inspections and recalls via the Food Safety Dashboard. One metric the agency will track is how quickly a company issues a public notice for a Class 1 recall for human and animal food. FDA has also released guidance on recall plans for its multipart guidance on “how to comply with the requirements for hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls under our rule entitled ‘Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food.’” USDA updated the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) Program Standards to incorporate proposed changes published in April 2019, including the amendment of the testing…

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the SAFE Banking Act, which allows financial-service firms to work with "cannabis-related legitimate businesses and service providers," providing protection from federal prosecution for banks in states that have legalized cannabis. The bill, introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), has been sent to the Senate. In its press release praising the bill's passage, the National Cannabis Industry Association introduced a plan calling for "cannabis products, like other highly regulated consumables, to be regulated by the government agencies that currently regulate most food and drugs, primarily the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within the U.S. Department of the Treasury." Under the plan, "cannabis products would be divided into four categories, based on chemical components, safety, intended use, and consumption method. Each of these groups would be regulated through a separate regulatory 'lane' tailored to the…

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