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Two consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Icelandic Provisions Inc.'s skyr cultured dairy product is misleadingly marketed as made in Iceland despite being produced in New York. Mantini v. Icelandic Provisions, Inc., No. 21-0618 (S.D.N.Y., filed January 23, 2021). The packaging for the skyr, which features the text "Traditional Icelandic Skyr" and photos of an Icelandic countryside, "gives consumers the belief it is made in Iceland," the complaint asserts. Although the back of the package indicates that the product is "made in Batavia, NY with domestic and imported ingredients," the plaintiffs allege they "relied upon the representations and indications of the Product's origins - literally and figuratively - in Iceland, and desired to purchase such a product." Alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment and violation of Pennsylvania's consumer-protection statute, the plaintiffs seek class certification, injunctive relief, damages, costs and attorney's fees.

In an effort to remove regulations no longer "necessary to ensure that these products meet consumer expectations," the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has proposed to revoke the standards of identity and quality for frozen cherry pie and French dressing. "The proposal is part of the FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy," constituent updates on the proposed revocations state. "One of the goals of the NIS is to modernize food standards to maintain the basic nature and nutritional integrity of products while allowing industry flexibility for innovation to produce more healthful foods. The FDA believes it is important to take a fresh look at existing standards of identity in light of marketing trends and the latest nutritional science." The agency's Fall 2020 agenda also indicated an intention to amend the standard of identity for yogurt and revoke the standards of identity for lowfat and nonfat yogurt, but that final rule has…

A consumer has alleged that Frito-Lay Inc.'s Baked Cheddar and Sour Cream chips use diacetyl to obtain the sour cream flavor without referring to diacetyl as a characterizing flavor. Vado v. Frito-Lay Inc., No. 20-2055 (S.D. Cal., filed October 19, 2020). The complaint asserts that artificial diacetyl, which provides a butter flavor, is used to enrich the taste of sour cream that has been produced from cows raised on a feedlot rather than a pasture. The plaintiff argues that the diacetyl is thus a characterizing flavor of the chips and alleges the chips should be labeled "Cheddar and Artificial Sour Cream Flavored." The complaint also distinguishes the baked variety of the chips from the brand's conventional version, which "actually contains sour cream and unlike the Mislabeled Product, real sour cream is listed as an ingredient on the back-label ingredient list." The plaintiff alleges violations of California consumer-protection statutes as well…

The European Parliament has reportedly voted against a ban on the use of meat terms for plant-based alternatives to meat, allowing words such as "burger," "steak" and "sausage" to be used on the packaging for plant-based foods, while passing a measure to ban the use of dairy terms on alternatives to dairy foods, such as "yogurt-style" or "cream imitation." A ban was already in place for the use of "milk" and "butter" for plant-based foods, and the passage of the measure expands the limitations.

Europol and Interpol have announced the seizure of 320 additional tonnes of "counterfeit and substandard food and beverages" following an operation that involved 83 countries, bringing the operation's seizure total to about 12,000 tonnes. "This year’s operational activities have found a new disturbing trend to address: the infiltration of low-quality products into the supply chain, a development possibly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic," the press release notes. The operation, which focused on dairy foods, olive oil, alcohol and horse meat, also identified counterfeit cereals, grains and derived products as well as coffee, tea and condiments.

A New York federal court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging that BEF Foods Inc. misleadingly marketed its Bob Evans mashed potatoes as containing butter. Sarr v. BEF Foods, No. 18-6409 (E.D.N.Y., entered February 13, 2020). The lawsuit alleged that the packaging promised "real butter" and "fresh potatoes" despite containing vegetable oil and preservatives. The court found that the product's ingredient list disclosed that the mashed potatoes contained both vegetable oil and butter, with butter as the more predominant ingredient. The court was also unpersuaded on the "fresh potatoes" point. "No reasonable consumer would conclude that the phrases 'Made with Fresh Potatoes' and 'Made with 100% Fresh Potatoes' [] imply that the finished Mashed Potatoes product itself was 'just prepared' or lacking preservatives," the court held. "BEF's representations unambiguously mean that the potatoes used as an ingredient in the Mashed Potatoes were fresh when so incorporated."

A Public Health Nutrition study has purportedly found that "toddler milks," or "sugar-sweetened milk-based drinks for toddlers," are a growing market but are advertised as providing unsubstantiated benefits. Choi et al., "US toddler milk sales and associations with marketing practices," Public Health Nutrition, February 4, 2020. The researchers reportedly found that 45% of preschoolers (24 to 47.9 months) and 31% of young toddlers (12 to 23.9 months) consume sugar-sweetened beverages each day. "[T]oddler milk packages contain numerous nutrition-related and child development claims, such as ‘DHA and iron to help support brain development’ and ‘probiotics to help support digestive health’, which have not been supported by scientific research," the researchers assert. "These claims may mislead caregivers to believe that toddler milk provides benefits for their child’s nutrition and development." The researchers called for countries "to enact Code provisions" that would limit or prohibit the promotion of breast milk substitutes, including toddler…

Following a vote in the Virginia House Agriculture Subcommittee, the state's House of Delegates will reportedly consider a bill that would limit the use of "milk" to describe the "lacteal secretion" from specific animals, including cows, sheep, goats, yaks, reindeer, water buffalo, horses and donkeys. During the subcommittee discussion, one delegate reportedly suggested adding "dairy" instead of removing "milk" because the term and associated words are used regularly for products that are not milk substitutes, such as "milk of magnesia" or "body butter." If enacted, the bill would not take effect until 11 states have passed similar legislation.

As consumers prioritize animal welfare more highly when purchasing meat, more companies are claiming to hold their production facilities to high standards—and more plaintiffs are disagreeing. Advocacy groups have targeted multiple companies for their allegedly misleading marketing touting their humane housing or slaughtering practices. For example, the Organic Consumers Association and Food & Water Watch filed a lawsuit against Pilgrim's Pride Corp. challenging the conditions of its chickens in its production plants. Facing a similar lawsuit, Hormel Foods Corp. won summary judgment when the D.C. Superior Court found the Animal Legal Defense Fund's claims to be preempted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In addition, the European Court of Justice considered what slaughter methods could warrant an "organic" label, determining that cows must be stunned before they are slaughtered. The National Advertising Division also recommended changes to a marketing campaign following a complaint that Clemens Food Group used misleading language…

The dispute over the meaning of meat- and dairy-related terms continued in 2019, with more states passing bans on the use of terms implying animal-derived products, such as "burger" or "milk," to describe plant-based products. Nebraska, Arizona and Washington considered bans, and Arkansas' ban was targeted with a challenge from Tofurky that has resulted in a temporary injunction preventing the state from enforcing the statute against the company. Similarly, Mississippi proposed amendments to its meat-defining law after a "vegan bacon" and "vegan chorizo" company argued that the law "harms society." A Missouri court, meanwhile, denied the Good Food Institute's and American Civil Liberties Union's motion for a preliminary injunction to enforce the state's meat-labeling statute. In addition, a bipartisan bill introduced in November, the Real MEAT Act, would define meat-related terms if the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) "fail[] to take appropriate action." The issue…

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