A California federal court has granted The Kroger Co.’s motion to dismiss
a lawsuit alleging the company’s breadcrumbs product includes partially
hydrogenated oil, which contains trans fat, despite labeling the product
as “0g Trans Fat.” Hawkins v. Kroger Co., No. 15-2320 (S.D. Cal., order
entered March 17, 2016).

The court found that the mislabeling claims failed for two reasons. First,
a challenge to a “0g Trans Fat” labeling claim is preempted, the court
said, because U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations require
that foods with less than one-half of a gram of trans fat be labeled as
“0g.” Second, the plaintiff failed to prove actual reliance on the allegedly
deceptive statements, the court found, rejecting her argument that she
“is a busy person and cannot reasonably inspect every ingredient of every
food that she purchases” despite having bought the bread crumbs six times per year for 15 years but only noticing the trans fat claim in August
2015. “Plaintiff cannot possibly have relied on the allegedly false statement
because she purchased [the product] for 15 years before learning
of the statement,” the court said. Accordingly, the court concluded the
plaintiff did not have standing to sue and dismissed the case.


Issue 599

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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.