Shook Food, Beverage & Agribusiness Practice Group Co-Chair Lindsey Heinz and Associate Elizabeth Fessler have authored an article for Law360 on a settlement between Kellogg Sales Co. and a plaintiff who alleged that the company’s cereals were misleadingly marketed as “healthy.” The settlement is “a prime example of the shifted focus toward sugar,” they explain, “and the agreement may cause companies to question whether simply following regulations on sugar is worth the risk.”

Heinz and Fessler track how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulated the use of “healthy” to describe foods and provide an overview of the Kellogg case. “Although labeling claims may be consistent with regulations, the industry should be wary of making claims inconsistent with current thoughts on what constitutes a healthy food. While the cereals at issue were in line with the FDA’s definition and guidance on ‘healthy’ — which does not reference sugar — the litigation still resulted in a significant monetary settlement and labeling changes, reflecting the consumer concern about added sugars,” they conclude. “As with other frequently challenged label claims, the industry should be reviewing its labels to determine if the claims align with scientific consensus and consumer expectations. If a product has added sugar, its manufacturer may benefit from evaluating whether claims about the healthy aspects of the product are appropriate and consistent with consumers’ current understanding of the term.”

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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.