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A California federal court has denied Clif Bar & Co.'s motion to dismiss a putative class action alleging that its Clif bars contain high levels of sugar but are misleadingly marketed as healthful. Milan v. Clif Bar & Co., No. 18-2354 (N.D. Cal., entered August 20, 2019). The court disagreed with Clif's argument that the plaintiff's claims were preempted by federal laws on the display of nutritional information on food packaging, finding the provisions "of no moment here because plaintiffs are not challenging the nutrition information on the Clif bars' label." Further, the court declined to consider whether a "reasonable consumer would know that the challenged products contained added sugars" given the flavor names—including Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Brownie and Iced Oatmeal Cookie—because "the motion to dismiss stage is not the place to decide these questions of fact." "Clif is alleged to have marketed its bars using words and imagery designed…

A consumer has filed a putative class action alleging that Post Consumer Brands' Honey Bunches of Oats is misleadingly named because the cereals are sweetened primarily by "sugar, corn syrup, and other refined substances, and contain only miniscule amounts of honey." Tucker v. Post Consumer Brands LLC, No. 19-3993 (N.D. Cal., filed July 11, 2019). The complaint details the alleged "negative health effects of consuming excess amounts of sugar" and asserts that "the branding and packaging of the Products convey the clear message that honey is the primary sweetener or—at a minimum—that honey is a significant sweetener compared to sugar and other refined substances that are perceived by consumers to be unhealthy or less healthy. Unfortunately for consumers, this message is simply untrue." The plaintiff includes the ingredient lists for several Honey Bunches of Oats varieties, which show "sugar" as the second or third ingredient along with "brown sugar," "corn…

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a pair of studies purportedly finding that "a high proportion of baby foods are incorrectly marketed as suitable for infants under the age of six months, when in fact much of it contains inappropriately high levels of sugar." Researchers reviewed 7,955 baby-food products in Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Israel and reportedly found that more than half of the products available in three of the countries provided more than 30% of their calories from sugars. WHO also noted that between 28% to 60% of products indicated that they were appropriate for infants under six months, which contradicts WHO guidance on exclusively breastfeeding until that age.

The National Advertising Division (NAD) has recommended that Oatly Inc. discontinue marketing representations that its oat milks contain "no added sugars." According to NAD's summary, the challenger argued that "the hydrolysis process, which turns oats into oatmilk, creates sugars 'in situ' as the oats are broken down into smaller components." NAD considered whether the question fell under its jurisdiction, noting that information appearing in the Nutrition Facts Panel would be governed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "Without taking a position on whether Oatly’s Nutrition Facts Panels are in compliance with FDA regulations, NAD recommended that Oatly not re-post or restate the 'added sugars' line of the Nutrition Facts Panel in its advertising, but noted that nothing in the decision prevents Oatly from using the 'added sugars' line of the Nutrition Facts Panel in a context that is not advertising, such as on product packaging for the purpose…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finalized guidance on labeling for added sugars in single-ingredient packages of "pure honey, pure maple syrup, and other pure sugars and syrups, which are not required to bear the words 'Includes Xg Added Sugars' but must still include the percent Daily Value (DV) for added sugars on their labels." The agency also indicated its intention "to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the use of truthful and not misleading statements on single-ingredient packages and/or containers."

Four consumers have filed a putative class action alleging that Kellogg Sales Co. misleadingly markets its products as promoting health and wellness despite containing added sugars. DiGregorio v. Kellogg Sales Co., No. 19-0632 (N.D.N.Y., filed May 28, 2019). The complaint details studies about the health effects of sugars on the human body and argues that the "high amounts of added sugar" in Kellogg's cereals and bars render regular consumption of the products as "likely to contribute to excess added sugar consumption, and, thereby, increased risk for and contraction of chronic disease." "Although Plaintiffs were the victims of Kellogg's longtime and general policy and practice with respect to the cereals and snack bars they purchased and the labels they saw, this Complaint and their claims are not so limited; rather, plaintiffs seek through this lawsuit to enjoin Kellogg's policy and practice generally, including but not necessarily limited to the products, labels,…

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued draft guidance allowing food manufacturers to exclude allulose when calculating the amount of added sugars a product contains. Allulose is "approximately 70 percent as sweet as sucrose," according to a comment FDA received, and "does not have the metabolic properties of fructose or other sugars and does not contribute calories or raise blood sugar levels like other sugars." FDA has proposed to "exercise enforcement discretion for the exclusion of allulose from the amount of 'Total Sugars' and 'Added Sugars' declared on the label and the use of a general factor of 0.4 calories per gram for allulose when determining 'Calories' on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts labels pending review of the issues in a rulemaking." Comments on the draft guidance will be accepted until June 17, 2019.

According to the BBC, advocacy group Action on Sugar has called for restaurants to stop serving "freakshakes," milkshakes with added "chocolates, sweets, cake, cream and sauce." The group reportedly surveyed restaurants for nutritional information on their freakshakes and found that some contained as many as 1,280 calories, or "more than half the daily recommended amount of calories for an adult and over six times the amount of sugar recommended for seven to 10-year-olds." The group called on the U.K. government to "introduce legislation to force companies to be more transparent about what is in their products."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released several reports and guidance documents on food-related issues, including draft guidance on reasonable serving sizes and a report on foodborne illnesses in restaurants. Food Labeling: Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One Eating Occasion, Reference Amounts Customarily Consumed, Serving Size-Related Issues, Dual-Column Labeling, and Miscellaneous Topics. This draft guidance details how food companies determine reasonable serving sizes for the nutritional panels on their products. Comments submitted before January 4, 2019, will be considered before FDA begins working on the final version of the guidance. Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: Questions and Answers Related to the Compliance Date, Added Sugars, and Declaration of Quantitative Amounts of Vitamins and Minerals; Guidance for Industry. FDA has provided a series of questions and answers on quantifying added sugars, vitamins and minerals. Several questions focus specifically on calculating added sugars in fruit juices…

A consumer has alleged that Apple & Eve markets its Switch Sparkling Juices as containing no added sugar or preservatives despite containing citric and ascorbic acids and having a "high calorie count when compared to competitors' products that do not have the 'No Sugar Added' claim." Reaves v. Apple & Eve LLC, No. 18-5728 (E.D.N.Y., filed October 12, 2018). The complaint asserts that consumers believe the juices to be "a low-calorie product" because of the "no sugar added" marketing message. "Consumers associate claims about the absence of sugar with lower calorie counts when there is no disclaimer stating otherwise," the complaint alleges. "The [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] has reached the same conclusion: 'Consumers may reasonably be expected to regard terms that represent that the food contains no sugars or sweeteners e.g., 'sugar free,' or 'no sugar,' as indicating a product which is low in calories or significantly reduced in…

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