The North American Olive Oil Association has brought an unfair competition and false advertising action against The Gourmet Factory claiming that it sells its Capatriti® brand as “100% Pure Olive Oil” when it is actually made from “leftover olive skins and pits using a combination of chemical solvents and high temperatures.” N. Am. Olive Oil Ass’n v. Kangadis Food Inc., d/b/a The Gourmet Factory, No. 113-868 (S.D.N.Y., filed February 6, 2013). The process apparently creates a byproduct referred to as “pomace,” and the complaint alleges that products containing pomace may not be marketed and labeled as olive oil under “an array of olive-oil making conventions, standard industry practices, international regulations, and federal and state laws.”

The association allegedly purchased tins of the defendant’s product from
store shelves in New York and New Jersey and shipped them to an expert in
Italy for testing, which purportedly confirmed the presence of chemicals and
constituents indicative of pomace, which can apparently be produced at a
fraction of the cost of authentic olive oil. The Gourmet Factory allegedly sells
its tins of “100% Pure Olive Oil” at prices one-third to one-half of the prices
charged for competitors’ authentic products. According to the association, the
defendant fought the adoption of purity standards in Connecticut, going so
far as to sue to delay their enactment, and thus “clearly was on notice about
the relevant standards that distinguish olive oil from Pomace.”

Alleging harm to association members who are competitors and consumers who are diverted “away from authentic products” and duped “into purchasing something that is not olive oil” thus eroding their confidence in the olive oil market and in food labeling in general, the plaintiff alleges Lanham Act and New York General Business Law violations. The association requests declaratory and injunctive relief, an order requiring the defendant to cease and desist immediately from selling mislabeled oils and to take steps to notify retailers and purchasers about the presence of pomace in its products, as well as treble statutory damages, costs, and attorney’s fees.

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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.