Tag Archives labeling

A federal court in Ohio has dismissed the putative class action claims filed by a woman who alleged that Kroger Co. deceived the public by selling its beef as aged, when it was actually selling beef packaged and shipped almost immediately after slaughter. St. Clair v. Kroger Co., No. 7-03798 (N.D. Ohio, decided October 14, 2008). The case was originally filed in state court and removed on defendant’s motion under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). Because the plaintiff failed to allege that Kroger had prior notice that its conduct was “deceptive or unconscionable,” the court was compelled under Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA) to dismiss the class claims. Prior notice, under the law, must be “in the form of a rule adopted by the state Attorney General or a judicial decision made publicly available,” neither of which was referred to in the complaint So ruling, the…

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is seeking comments on policies that regulate whether processors can use animal raising claims in labeling for meat and poultry products. “[R]ecent experience with labeling claims related to the raising of poultry have led FSIS to initiate a review of its evaluation and approval process for labels of meat and poultry products that contain animal raising claims,” stated the agency in a recent Federal Register notice. Animal raising claims include language that describes a product as “raised without antibiotics”; “not fed animal by-products”; “free range”; “vegetarian fed diet”; and “raised with added hormones.” FSIS currently evaluates such claims “by reviewing testimonials, affidavits, animal product protocols, and other relevant documentation provided by animal producers.” The agency is soliciting public input on this approval process, which also allows meat and poultry establishments to submit certification from outside organizations or entities in support of animal raising claims.…

GAO recently presented a new report, titled Food Labeling: FDA Needs to Better Leverage Resources, Improve Oversight, and Effectively Use Available Data to Help Consumers Select Healthy Foods before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. The report claims that FDA oversight, which has failed to keep pace with the growing number of food firms, offers “little assurance that companies comply with food labeling laws and regulations for, among other things, preventing false or misleading labeling.” In particular, GAO found that FDA (i) “does not have reliable data on the number of labels reviewed”; (ii) conducted only “limited” testing for the accuracy of nutrition information for labels from 2000 through 2006; and (iii) “does not track the complete and timely correction of labeling violations or analyze these and other labeling oversight data in routine reports to inform managers’ decisions, or ensure the…

A California resident has filed suit against ConAgra Foods, Inc., alleging that it falsely advertises and labels its Healthy Choice® pasta sauce products as “100% Natural,” “Natural” or “All Natural” despite using high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to make them. Lockwood v. ConAgra Foods, Inc., No. 08-4151 (N.D. Cal., filed September 2, 2008). Claiming that “[t]he complicated process used to create HFCS does not occur in nature” and that “it is misleading to consumers to label products that contain HFCS as ‘Natural,’” the plaintiff seeks to certify a class of “All persons in California who purchased any of Defendant’s pasta sauce products containing High Fructose Corn Syrup, yet marketed, advertised or labeled as being ‘All Natural’, ‘Natural’ or ‘100% Natural’ during the ‘Class Period.’” According to the plaintiff, a number of common questions predominate over individual issues, including whether defendant misrepresented its ingredients, mislabeled its products or engaged in unfair and…

In a July 3, 2008, letter to the Corn Refiners Association, the FDA has indicated that products containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may be labeled “natural” if the synthetic fixing agent that is used in the HFCS production process does not come into contact with the high dextrose equivalent corn starch hydrolysate, which undergoes enzymatic reaction to produce HFCS. The fixing agent apparently holds the enzyme in place on a column and any unreacted agent is removed by washing before the starch hydrolysate is added. Thus, “we would not object to the use of the term ‘natural’ on a product containing the HFCS produced by the manufacturing process described” by a representative of the Archer Daniels Midland Co., who met with FDA at the request of the Corn Refiners Association in April 2008. The agency added, “we would object to the use of the term ‘natural’ on a product containing…

According to a news source, a federal court in New Jersey has dismissed claims that the manufacturer of a beverage containing high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) deceived the public by promoting the product as “all natural.” The court apparently based its ruling on federal preemption, leaving it to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to define the terms “natural” and “all natural.” U.S. District Judge Mary Cooper reportedly stated, “This court will not determine that which the FDA, with all of its scientific expertise, has yet to determine, namely how the terms ‘natural’ and ‘all natural’ should be defined and whether either may be used on the label of a beverage containing HFCS. Instead, this court will allow the FDA, which has already set forth specific requirements for what must be included on beverage labels, to decide whether such a determination is necessary and warranted.” The ruling specifically applies to Snapple®…

An FDA administrator has reportedly told a media source that the agency “would object to the use of the term ‘natural’ on a product containing HFCS [high fructose corn syrup].” Food NavigatorUSA.com revealed in an April 2, 2008, article that its reporters had inquired about HFCS using an FDA system designed to assist manufacturers with the labeling process. According to Food Navigator, FDA Supervisor Geraldine June of the Office of Nutrition, Labeling and Dietary Supplements replied in an email that, “The use of synthetic fixing agents in the enzyme preparation, which is then used to produce HFCS, would not be consistent with our (…) policy regarding the use of the term ‘natural.’” “Moreover,” June added, “the corn starch hydrolysate, which is the substrate used in the production of HFCS, may be obtained through the use of safe and suitable acids or enzymes. Depending on the type of acid(s) used to obtain…

This article examines the latest squabble at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration over the circumstances under which food products can properly be labeled “natural.” Noting that a number of chicken producers inject their “all natural” birds with salt water and broth, a practice some call fraudulent, journalist Andrew Bridges reports that even Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, finds the issue confusing; he was quoted as saying, “It’s worth bringing in the rabbis to analyze these situations because it’s complicated, it’s subtle. You can argue from both sides. It has fine distinctions.” Petitions, comments and lawsuits have been filed over the matter involving foods ranging from poultry, beef and pork to soft drinks and other products containing high-fructose corn syrup. The final word is given to a Consumers Union scientist and policy analyst who observed, “The ‘natural’ thing…

A poultry producers coalition has reportedly launched a campaign to end “natural” labeling claims for chickens enhanced with water, salt or binding agents such as carrageenan. Sanderson Farms, Inc., Foster Farms and Gold’n Plump Poultry have asked USDA, which is currently redrafting its rules on “natural” claims, to exclude chicken products that are mechanically injected or tumbled with a marinade solution to improve appearance and moisture retention. The current definition specifies only that products cannot contain artificial ingredients and must be “minimally processed.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) contends that “some unscrupulous poultry producers add as much as 15 percent saltwater–and then have the gall to label such pumped-up poultry products ‘natural.’” U.S. Representatives Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.) and Charles Pickering (R-Miss.) claimed in a recent press release that approximately 33 percent of fresh chicken sold to consumers was altered via injection or “vacuum tumbling.” They also argued…

“Americans are largely unaware of GM foods, both of its presence in their lives and of its wide application in food production,” according to a survey conducted by the Rutgers Food Policy Institute. Less than one-half of survey respondents (48 percent) knew that GM foods are available in supermarkets, and less than one-third of them (31 percent) believed they had ever eaten GM products. Other survey findings showed that participants want food labeling to clearly indicate pesticide use, GM status and country of origin. See Associated Press, March 24, 2005.  

Close