Perkins Coie is pleased to present its fourth annual Food Litigation Year in Review 2019, offering a summary of the past year’s key litigation outcomes, regulatory developments, and filing data. Using metrics from our proprietary database, developed by our food litigation team in order to track and understand trends in this area, 2019’s Year in Review again reports an increase in class action litigation, with a record-breaking 173 new lawsuits filed. The upward filing trends in the class action landscape are mirrored in other industries and in the prosecution of related claims: putative class actions against the pet food and dietary supplement industries were on the rise in 2019, as were Proposition 65 warning notices.
Continue Reading Food Litigation Year in Review 2019

Perkins Coie is pleased to present its third annual Food Litigation Year in Review, offering a summary of the year’s key litigation outcomes, regulatory developments, and filing data. Last year, pointing to uncertainty at the appellate level, Perkins Coie predicted continued litigation in 2018. Using metrics from our proprietary database, developed by our food

Each month we will be sharing the PC Food Litigation Index, a summary of latest class action filings in the food and beverage industry.  This data is compiled by Perkins Coie based on a review of dockets from courts nationwide.

Consumers continued to challenge the “all natural” labels on products that contain the popular ingredient xanthan gum, used as a stabilizer and emulsifier in thousands of common food products. A level of ambiguity survived the FDA’s aging guidance on natural, which requires that “nothing artificial or synthetic . . . has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected to be in that food.” Plaintiffs’ lawyers have argued that the fermentation process through which xanthan gum is manufactured is not natural, but synthetic. The ingredient is at the center of an increasing number of “natural” cases. In Grindel v. LarMar Foods, for example, the plaintiff argues that the defendant’s Garlic Expressions brand vinaigrette, which contains xanthan gum, misleads consumers with its “all natural” label. In attacking the salad dressing’s packaging as misleading, the plaintiff pointed not only to the words “all natural,” but “the overall format and appearance of the label.”

Slack-fill cases were also on the rise in June, beating projections with several new complaints targeting alleged underfilling in everything from ice cream “pints” to candy boxes and cake mix and risotto bags. In Kamal v. Eden Creamery, the plaintiff argues that Eden, the maker of the increasingly popular Halo Top brand, “routinely underfills its pint containers,” “short-changing” members of its “cult-like following.”

Several other false fact cases confronted labeling claims suggesting a product contains an ingredient that is absent from the product. One such case took Walmart to task for the label of its Strawberries & Cream Instant Oatmeal, which the plaintiff alleges includes not real strawberries, but rather “cheap pieces of colored apple, literally disguised to look like more expensive strawberries.” In a suit against the makers of Rx Bar, the plaintiff argues that the bars do not actually contain egg whites, as their label states, “because the foaming properties of egg whites would limit the ability to blend it with the other ingredients.” Instead, the product contains egg white protein powder.

Annual Filing Trends


Continue Reading PC Food Litigation Index: June 2018

Each month we will be sharing the PC Food Litigation Index, a summary of latest class action filings in the food and beverage industry.  This data is compiled by Perkins Coie based on a review of dockets from courts nationwide.

In March, plaintiffs challenged a variety of food labeling and marketing claims, with most filings falling into the general false fact category. Claims in this category contested the labeling representations on products ranging from eggs and kombucha to quinoa snacks and spring water. As trendy, premium ingredients—like quinoa—make more frequent appearances on product labels, plaintiffs’ counsel are seeking to challenge the quantity of  those ingredients in a given product. Several claims continued the trend of targeting food and beverage labels that state or seem to suggest products or their ingredients are sourced from certain locales. Slack-fill lawsuits made up the second largest category of food litigation filings, where candy packaging remains a frequent target. Filings are down slightly from a year ago, though some jurisdiction such as Illinois have seen increased food litigation activity.

Annual Filing Trends


Continue Reading PC Food Litigation Index: March 2018

Newman v. Dierbergs Markets, Inc., No. 1822-CC00194 (Mo. Cir. Ct. – St. Louis): Putative class action asserting violations of Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act, and raising a claim for unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleges that the label on Defendant’s Extra Crunchy “All Natural” Extra Kettle Cooked Potato Chips is false and misleading, representing the chips as “all natural” despite the fact that they contain xanthan gum, a synthetic ingredient.
Continue Reading New Filings – February 7, 2018

Quiroz v. The Apple & Eve, LLC, No. 2:18-cv-00401 (E.D.N.Y.): Putative class action alleging violation of New York’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and False Advertising provision of the GBL, as well as California’s CLRA, UCL and FAL, and raising a claim for common law fraud. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant falsely and misleadingly labels its juice products, representing them as having “No Sugar Added” and claiming “[no] preservatives have been added,” leading consumers to believe that “they are receiving a healthier, lower-calorie juice, when they are not.”
Continue Reading New Filings – January 24, 2018

Miao v. Iovate Health Sciences U.S.A. Inc., No. 1:17-cv-09427 (S.D.N.Y.): Putative slack-fill class action asserting violations of New York’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and False Advertising provisions of the GBL, and raising a claim for common law fraud. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant’s containers of Herbal Zen Nutrition plant-based protein powder are 40% slack-filled.
Continue Reading New Filings – December 15, 2017

Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Class Action Involving Healthfulness of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Traction v. Viva Labs, Inc., No. 3:16-cv-02772 (S.D. Cal.): The Court issued an order denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss this putative class action for violation of California’s CLRA, UCL, FAC and breach of express and implied warranties. Plaintiff alleges Defendant misleadingly labels and markets its Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil as healthy, and as a healthy alternative to butter and other cooking oils, despite that it is actually inherently unhealthy and a less healthy alternative. The Court denied the motion based on lack of standing and declined to dismiss Plaintiff’s UCL, FAL, and CLRA claims based on the reasonable consumer test.  The Court also denied the motion with respect to Plaintiff’s UCL unlawful claim, and breach of express and implied warranty claims.
Continue Reading Rulings, Orders, Settlements – October 9, 2017