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Federal prosecutors in Chicago are seeking an injunction against Kingdom Farms Wholesale Meats Inc. for allegedly packaging, selling and transporting products without federal marks of inspection and required labeling. U.S. v. Kingdom Farms Wholesale Meats Inc., No. 18-4155 (N.D. Ill., filed June 14, 2018). The complaint asserts that Kingdom Farms removed products from properly labeled shipping containers and repackaged and sold them without inspection marks and labeling, applied inspection labeling without authorization, and reused properly labeled shipping containers without authorization. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges the defendants’ actions violated the Poultry Products Inspection Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act and seeks a permanent injunction restraining them from misbranding or mislabeling products and compelling their compliance with the laws.

A Missouri federal court has dismissed with prejudice a putative class action alleging Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. mislabels Canada Dry Ginger Ale because it does not contain ginger. Webb v. Dr Pepper Snapple Grp. Inc., No. 17-0624 (W.D. Mo., entered June 21, 2018). The court approved a stipulated voluntary dismissal filed by the named plaintiff. In April 2018, the court denied the beverage maker’s motion to dismiss, finding the plaintiff had adequately pleaded all of the seven counts alleged.

A consumer has filed a lawsuit alleging that the packaging for Chicago Bar Co.'s RXBAR misleads consumers about the ingredients of the product. Pizzirusso v. Chicago Bar Co., No. 18-3529 (E.D.N.Y., filed June 15, 2018). RXBAR and RXBAR Kids products feature a list of ingredients on the front of the package—for example, the blueberry flavor's packaging reads, "3 Egg Whites, 6 Almonds, 4 Cashews, 2 Dates, No B.S."—with an additional ingredient list on the back of the package. According to the complaint, both lists obscure the actual ingredients; rather than egg whites, the plaintiff argues, RXBARs contain egg white protein powder, which a previous version of the packaging allegedly named. "[P]arents correctly wouldn't want to buy their young children foods which contained concentrated protein powders, for a variety of reasons related to normal adolescent and child development," the plaintiff argues. Further, the "fruit pieces incorporated into the Products are 'infused' (flavored)…

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has affirmed summary judgment dismissing a putative class action alleging that Twinings North America Inc.'s teas contained fewer antioxidants than claimed on product labels, holding the plaintiff had failed to establish standing. Lanovaz v. Twinings N. Am. Inc., No. 16-16628 (9th Cir., entered June 6, 2018). The court focused on the plaintiff's statement that she would not purchase Twinings tea again even if the company changed the allegedly misleading labels. To establish standing, a plaintiff must show an imminent or actual threat of future harm, the court held, and the plaintiff’s “some day intention” of professed intent, “without any description of concrete plans, or indeed even any specification of when that some day will be—do[es] not support a finding of the ‘actual or imminent’ injury.”

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) have introduced the Accurate Labels Act, a proposed amendment to the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act that would require information about the "chemical composition of, and radiation emitted by" a food product to be based on the "best available science." According to a press release from Moran, the bill "ensures that consumers have access to accurate and easy-to-understand product information" by (i) "[e]stablishing science-based criteria for all additional state and local labeling requirements"; (ii) "[a]llowing state-mandated product information to be provided through smartphone-enabled 'smart labels' and on websites, where consumers can find up-to-date, relevant ingredients and warnings"; and (iii) "[e]nsuring that covered product information is risk-based." "Consumers deserve full transparency on the products they’re buying, no matter where they live or shop," Kinzinger said in a statement. "Often times, due to various state laws, items are…

The Florida attorney general has filed a lawsuit alleging Miami-based Icebox Cafe violated the state's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act by advertising its food and beverage items as locally sourced and "farm-to-table" while the ingredients were purchased from traditional commercial vendors. Office of the Attorney Gen. v. Icebox Cafe LC, No. __ (Fla. Cir. Ct., Miami-Dade Cty., filed May 4, 2018). The state alleges that Icebox Cafe "represented that it purchased products from specific Florida farms and suppliers when such was not the case." According to the complaint, Icebox Cafe's invoices indicate that most of its ingredients were purchased from commercial distributors while its advertising stated that its food was made from products purchased from a local farm and a local seafood distributor. The cafe also allegedly represented that its menu items contained wild salmon and same-day-caught fish, but its invoices did not show purchases of those items. Claiming deceptive representation,…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging New England Coffee Company (NECC) mislabels its Hazelnut Crème Coffee by failing to include a front-label disclosure that the product contains natural and artificial flavors. Dumont v. Reily Foods Co., No. 18-10907 (D. Mass., filed May 7, 2018). "Rather, buried on the back side of the label in the far-left corner in tiny print was the only indication that the Product did not contain its characterizing ingredient [hazelnut]," the complaint asserts. The plaintiff argues that the front-label disclosure is a legal requirement and "a material term on which a reasonable consumer would rely." The complaint points to examples of competitors' hazelnut coffees that contain front-of-package disclosures as well as similar disclosures on other varieties of coffee sold by NECC. The complaint asserts that after the plaintiff sent a notification-and-demand letter to NECC in 2017, the company added the disclosure to 15 of the…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the availability of "Menu Labeling: Supplemental Guidance for Industry," which includes an advisory of FDA's intent to exercise discretion regarding nutrient declarations for calories from fat. FDA has taken this position "because the current science supports a view that the type of fat is more relevant to the risk of chronic disease than the overall caloric fat intake." The guidance also addresses concerns about the implementation of nutrition labeling, includes "expanded and new examples of alternatives to aid in compliance" and details the criteria for considering natural variations in foods when determining nutritional labels.

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released the proposed National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, which would establish "a mandatory uniform national standard for disclosure of information to consumers." The proposal defines “bioengineered food” as food “that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques" "for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.” AMS seeks comments on "how to interpret the statutory definition of 'bioengineering,' and thus the scope of the regulatory definition of 'bioengineered food,'" according to the announcement. "In particular, AMS is interested in any additional studies conducted on this issue, the cost of implementation under each policy, and whether certain policies describing the scope of foods subject to the disclosure standard would lower costs to affected entities." Comments on the proposed rule must be received by July…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the compliance date for its changes to food nutrition labels. The extension applies to rules on (i) providing updated nutrition labeling on food; (ii) defining a single-serving container; (iii) requiring dual-column labeling for certain containers; (iv) updating, modifying and establishing certain reference amounts customarily consumed; and (v) amending the label serving size for breath mints. The compliance date for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales is January 1, 2020, and the compliance date for manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales is January 1, 2021.

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