Tag Archives dairy

A plaintiff has filed a putative class action alleging Tillamook County Creamery Association misleadingly markets its products as sourced from cows in Tillamook County. Bohr v. Tillamook Cty. Creamery Ass'n, No. 19-36208 (Ore. Cir. Ct., Multnomah Cty., filed August 19, 2019). The complaint alleges that consumers "increasingly seek out and are willing to pay more for products that they perceive as being locally and ethically sourced—better for the environment, more humane." Tillamook allegedly sought to capitalize on this consumer preference by advertising its products as "made with four ingredients, patience, and old-fashioned farmer values in Tillamook, Oregon," despite producing its cheese and ice cream with ingredients obtained from "the largest and most industrialized dairy factory farm in the country," a "complex of cement-floored production facilities and barren dirt feedlots, where cows are continuously confined, milked by robotic carousels, and afflicted with painful udder infections." The complaint cites a "recent consumer…

A New York federal court has granted Crystal Farms Refrigerated Distribution Co.'s motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging that the packaging of Diner's Choice mashed potatoes misleads consumers by featuring "Made with Real Butter" on the front despite containing both butter and margarine. Reyes v. Crystal Farms Refrigerated Distrib. Co., No. 18-2250 (E.D.N.Y., entered July 26, 2019). The court dismissed the allegations relying on the "butter" representation because the statement "is not misleading. Defendant's mashed potatoes contain butter. [] To the extent that including a label on a mashed-potatoes package indicating that the product is 'made with real butter' may create confusion as to whether the mashed potatoes also contain margarine, such confusion is sufficiently dispelled by the ingredients label on the back of the package, which states twice—and once in bold font set apart from the rest of the items listed in the ingredients label—that the product…

Bloomberg has published an article on companies looking to create dairy products from laboratory-grown whey that could compete with the livestock-derived whey that sold an estimated $10 billion in 2018. One featured start-up, Perfect Day, reportedly asserted that "its proteins require 98% less water and 65% less energy than that required to produce whey from cows" but the company must overcome "consumer squeamishness and regulatory reviews that may end up focusing more on the genetically modified organisms [GMO] used to make lab-grown whey." Perfect Day "wants to rebrand microbes used in food—yeast, fungi, bacteria—as flora, a more consumer-friendly term," Bloomberg reports, to attract vegans who may avoid something labeled "milk protein" and other consumers who may skip products described as "lab-grown" on the label. "We are trying to explore how we can get a term for this industry that's outside of plant-based," one of the founders reportedly told Bloomberg. "Something…

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) has submitted a citizen petition urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to "[e]nforce existing 'imitation' labeling requirements against nutritionally inferior non-dairy substitutes for standardized dairy foods that are named and positioned as forms of 'milk,' 'yogurt,' 'cheese,' 'ice cream,' or 'butter,' yet fail to provide the 'imitation' disclosure statement that is required." The petition's introductory letter argues that its recommended actions "are necessary to ensure that consumers are adequately informed concerning the material differences between standardized dairy foods (e.g., milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, butter) and the wide variety of non-dairy substitutes that are available in the marketplace which are identified through the misappropriation of terms that have been defined by standards of identity to identify standardized foods that meet specified compositional, nutritional, or functional requirements." The debate over dairy and non-dairy substitute labeling extends to Canada, where a creamery has reportedly…

A group of members of Congress, led by Reps. John Joyce (R-Pa.) and Anthony Brindisi (D-N.Y.), have urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to enforce "regulations defining what may be labeled a dairy product, to combat the proliferation of imitation and substitute dairy products in the marketplace that undermine FDA regulations by using standardized dairy terms on non-dairy products." "Dairy product terms convey specific information for consumers on nutritional content and ingredient performance. Put simply, imitations and substitutes do not meet these standards, nor do they have any standardized requirements for nutritional content, composition, and processing, unlike the dairy products they seek to imitate. Most importantly, they are not sourced from cows or other lactating mammals as required by the standards we referred to up above," the letter asserts. "Giving this ongoing problem, we are pleased that FDA now plans to act. We urge you to make crystal…

A consumer asserts that Miyoko's Kitchen Inc.'s "vegan butter" misleads consumers into believing the product is "a 'form' of butter" despite lacking "any milk or dairy ingredients and the functional, nutritional, sensory and organoleptic attributes which consumers associate with butter." Brown v. Miyoko's Kitchen Inc., No. 18-6079 (E.D.N.Y., filed October 30, 2018). The products "bask in dairy's 'halo' by using familiar terms to invoke positive traits—including the significant levels of various nutrients typically associated with real dairy foods," the complaint alleges. The plaintiff argues that consumers "prefer butter over its imitators" because of its "unique and unduplicated taste," "mouthfeel" and "ability to enhance the texture of and other qualities of (mashed) potato products." "The plant-based Product is not butter because it is derived from coconut (lauric) oil and nut ingredients, among others, and lacks any fat derived from cow's milk," the plaintiff argues. The product meets U.S. Food and Drug…

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has upheld a Wisconsin law requiring butter sold within the state to bear a grade issued by a Wisconsin-licensed butter grader or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Minerva Dairy Inc. v. Harsdorf, No. 18-1520 (7th Cir., entered October 3, 2018). The Ohio dairy challenging the law alleged it violated the Due Process Clause, the Equal Protection Clause and the dormant Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but a lower court granted summary judgment in favor of Wisconsin. The appeals court first found that the statute does not violate substantive due process or equal protection because the law is “rationally related to at least two conceivable state interests”—consumer protection and promotion of commerce. Turning to the dormant Commerce Clause allegation, the court found that the law does not have a discriminatory effect on interstate commerce. The dairy argued that requiring out-of-state…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has solicited public input on questions related to plant-based substitutes for dairy products such as almond or soy milk. The agency's request for information (RFI) seeks responses on three points: "How do you use plant-based products?" "What is your understanding of dairy terms like milk, yogurt and cheese when they are used to label plant-based products?" "Do you understand the nutritional characteristics of plant-based products? Do you know how they’re different from each other? Do you know how their nutritional qualities compare with dairy products?" "The RFI opened today is an important step in our efforts to take a look at how we have been applying the Food Drug and Cosmetic Act with respect to food names and our existing standards of identity," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement. "The comments we receive will help inform the development of draft guidance…

Following his related statements at a conference, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has announced that the agency will review the standardized identities of dairy products and products marketed as their substitutes, including beverages made from almonds, rice or soy. The announcement suggests that allowing the plant-based substitutes to be labeled as “milk” has caused confusion among consumers and led to detrimental effects on children. “We’re going to have an active public process for reviewing our standard and how consumers understand the use of terms like milk on both animal-derived and plant-based products," Gottlieb said in the announcement. "We want to see if the nutritional characteristics and other differences between these products are well-understood by consumers when making dietary choices for themselves and their families. We must better understand if consumers are being misled as a result of the way the term milk is being applied and…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging Ornua Foods North America misleadingly marketed its Kerrygold butter as produced from grass-fed cows because the cows are fed for part of the year with soy, corn and other grains. Myers-Taylor v. Ornua Foods N. Am., No. 18-1538 (S.D. Cal., filed July 6, 2018). The plaintiff asserts Ornua charges a premium based on the grass-fed-cows claim because butter produced from grass-fed cows purportedly contains higher levels of conjugated linoleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids, butyric acid and vitamins A and K2 than butter from grain-fed cows. Claiming violations of the California consumer-protection statutes, breach of express warranty, fraud and negligent misrepresentation, the plaintiff seeks class certification, restitution, damages and attorney's fees.

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