California Court Dismisses Cookie Suit Involving PHO Claims
A California federal court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging Kellogg Co. misrepresents its Mother’s® Cookies products as free of trans fats despite containing partially hydrogenated oil (PHO). Hawkins v. Kellogg Co., No. 16-147 (S.D. Cal., order entered December 13, 2016). Details about the dismissal of a similar case involving the same plaintiff appear in Issue 592 of this Update.
The court held that the plaintiff had standing to sue based on the health effects of inflammation and organ damage associated with the consumption of PHO, noting that Kellogg’s response to the arguments focused on the insufficiency of speculative future risks for standing rather than the current effects. The court then turned to federal law governing the plaintiff’s claims and found that because PHO is currently permitted in food until June 2018, the plaintiff could not plausibly allege that Kellogg violated federal law. Further, her state law claims were preempted by federal law. With no viable claims remaining, the court dismissed the action with prejudice.