Last week, a split-panel of the Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of a false advertising case in which plaintiffs alleged that “Product of the U.S.A.” labels on various beef products were misleading because the products do not originate from cattle born and raised in the United States.  Plaintiffs alleged that defendants imported live

Artfully worded disclaimers are an increasingly powerful tool for food companies looking to protect their label claims, as the following case illustrates.

On December 6, 2021, the Southern District of California tossed a case alleging that Defendant’s hand sanitizer falsely claimed it “kills 99.99% of germs,” followed by an asterisk that stated, “Effective at eliminating more than 99.99% of many common harmful germs and bacteria in as little as 15 seconds,” because the product was “substantially ineffective against approximately 54 pathogens.” The Court first held that Plaintiff failed to establish standing because he lacked a cognizable injury—”Plaintiff points to the Products alleged ineffectiveness….Yet nothing suggests that the Products did not accomplish their intended purpose to some degree.” Further, Plaintiff’s amended complaint “makes no representations that the alleged issues resulted in payment of a premium.”
Continue Reading Plaintiff Could Not Clean Up Defendant’s Hand Sanitizer Labeling

Health-conscious consumers continue to challenge the sugar content in foods, including sugar appearing in other forms, such as “dehydrated cane juice solids.” But as one recent case shows, calling sugar by another name is not actionable alone if the product does not otherwise make representations about sugar content and accurately discloses sugar content on the nutrition facts panel.
Continue Reading Sugar by Any Other Name: Plaintiff’s Recent Challenge to “Dehydrated Cane Juice Solids” Fails

Key Takeaway: As consumer demand for “sustainable” products grows, so does the risk of litigation challenging sustainability claims on advertising and packaging. As one recent case shows, failure to plead actual reliance can be grounds for dismissal of claims that sound in fraud, including claims under California’s False Advertising Law (“FAL”), Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”),

A new rule from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has caused considerable concern within the cannabidiol (CBD) industry. The rule relates to the distinction made in the 2018 Farm Bill that removed certain cannabis products, such as industrial hemp and those containing hemp-derived CBD, with levels of THC not exceeding 0.3% by weight from the federal controlled substances list. THC is the psychoactive substances most associated with a marijuana “high.” DEA’s interim final rule appears straightforward at first glance: cannabis products containing more than 0.3% by weight are subject to DEA enforcement as controlled substances. The rule appears to mean, however, that THC levels can never exceed 0.3% at any point during the product’s manufacturing process, even if the final product offered for sale had THC at appropriate levels.
Continue Reading New DEA Rule May Threaten CBD Manufacturing

In 2011, Perkins Coie’s winning defense in Turek v. General Mills led to the first published federal appellate decision on the scope of the preemption defense under the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). Subsequently, the preemption defense remains strong under the NLEA and other aspects of the federal Food Drug & Cosmetics Act (FDCA), including in cases involving supplements. See Dachauer v. NBTY, Inc. 913 F.3d 844 (9th Cir. 2019). That trend continues. On May 11, 2020, the Second Circuit held that the preemption defense extends to cosmetic products regulated under the FDCA as well.

Continue Reading Notable Ruling: Lessons for Food Litigation, Second Circuit Upholds Preemption Defense in Cosmetics Case

California courts remain a top forum for food litigation matters. So many matters are heard in the Northern District of California that it has gained a reputation as the “Food Court.” Now, the California Supreme Court has held that two of the state’s most widely used consumer protection statutes must be tried by a judge rather than a jury.

California’s False Advertising Law (“FAL”), codified at Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17500 et seq., and the Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”), codified at Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200, et seq., represent two of the most common vehicles for plaintiffs to bring suits alleging false product claims or purported misrepresentations on food labels.
Continue Reading Notable Ruling: No Jury for False Advertising and UCL Suits, California Supreme Court Rules

The Ninth Circuit delivered a win for food and beverage companies just in time for the new year in a published opinion in Becerra v. Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., — F.3d —, 2019 WL 7287554 (9th Cir. Dec. 30, 2019).

Plaintiff in Becerra alleged that use of the word “diet” to describe Diet Dr Pepper is misleading because it suggests the product will help consumers lose weight. She relied on several scientific studies to allege that aspartame, the artificial sweetener in many diet sodas, “is likely to cause weight gain,” and “poses no benefit for weight loss.” She also relied on the results of a survey that, according to Plaintiff, showed the majority of soft-drink consumers believe “diet” soft drinks will help them lose or maintain their weight. After several rounds of motion to dismiss briefing, the district court dismissed plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice, and plaintiff appealed.

Continue Reading Notable Ruling: Reasonable Consumers Not Misled by “Diet” Soft Drinks

In an Order issued earlier this week, the D.C. Superior Court entered an important ruling on the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act (DCCPPA). While the ruling ultimately found that the plaintiffs in the suit had standing, it substantially trimmed the theories upon which that standing was grounded.

In Praxis Project et al. v. The Coca-Cola Company, two individuals and a non-profit organization lodged suit against the beverage manufacturer alleging that the manufacturer had made false, deceptive, and misleading representations about its sugar-sweetened beverages in violation of the DCCPPA. Among other things, the Plaintiffs alleged they had standing to lodge the suit based on the DCCPPA’s unique standing provisions.

Continue Reading Notable Ruling: D.C. Superior Court Issues Ruling on Standing Under DCCPPA