A New York federal court has trimmed claims in a lawsuit alleging that Arizona Beverages Co. and its parent company Hornell Brewing Co. Inc. misled consumers by labeling Arizona Fruit Snacks as “all natural” despite containing synthetic ingredients, including ascorbic acid, glucose syrup, citric acid, gelatin and dextrose. Silva v. Hornell Brewing Co. Inc., No. 20-0756 (E.D.N.Y., entered August 10, 2020).

The court declined to dismiss the case on the basis that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) holds primary jurisdiction over the issue. “First, while defining the term ‘all natural’ does involve technical and policy considerations, this case does not require a technical definition of ‘all natural,'” the court held. “Instead, this case requires a determination of whether labeling the Product as ‘all natural’ is misleading to a reasonable consumer. That type of legal question is within the conventional experience of the court and does not require FDA guidance.”

The court allowed several claims to proceed, but it dismissed claims brought under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act for a lack of written warranty and dismissed a claim for unjust enrichment as duplicative of other claims in the case. The court also dismissed the claim for injunctive relief, finding, “To the extent that plaintiff was deceived by the appearance of the phrase ‘All Natural’ on the Product label, the existence of this lawsuit shows that he is now aware that the Product contains synthetic ingredients. Thus, he will not be harmed again in the same way, and he lacks standing to seek an injunction.”

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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