Yesterday lawmakers on the Senate Agriculture Committee reached a bipartisan agreement to require labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients.  The law would set a mandatory national system for disclosure on food products and will preempt states from enacting their own labeling standards regarding genetically engineered food products.

Continue Reading National GMO Labeling Standard on the Horizon

On June 16, 2016, Evan Parent’s claims fell flat for the second time in a closely watched consumer class action alleging that MillerCoors falsely represents that Blue Moon beer is brewed by a small, independent microbrew.

In October 2015, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel dismissed Parent’s original complaint accusing MillerCoors of deceptively representing Blue Moon beer as a “craft beer” on the basis that California’s safe harbor exception to its consumer protection laws applied to claims alleging that MillerCoors’ hid its ownership of Blue Moon by not including its name on the bottle or outer packaging of the beer.


Continue Reading Perkins Coie Crafts Victory for MillerCoors

On April 29, 2016, Dole Foods Company announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had launched an investigation concerning listeria outbreaks at certain Dole plants.  The investigation comes on the heels of a number of high profile DOJ probes into outbreaks of food-related illnesses, most recently Blue Bell Creameries, and continues the DOJ’s recent trend towards aggressive pursuit of food safety violations and criminal charges against corporate executives.

The federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) creates a strict liability criminal offense arising from the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce.  The DOJ may elect to pursue misdemeanor or felony charges based on the nature and seriousness of the violation and the scope of the outbreak.  If the outbreak is a first-time offense or is the result of an unintentional violation, then the DOJ is more likely to pursue misdemeanor charges.  If, on the other hand, the company responsible for the outbreak has repeatedly violated the FDCA or has introduced the adulterated food intentionally or knowingly, the DOJ has not hesitated to bring felony charges.  Importantly, both companies and individual executives may face liability for outbreaks, and company executives may be held vicariously liable and face criminal charges even if they were unaware of the contamination.


Continue Reading DOJ’s Focus on Food Safety and Corporate Executives

Hu v. Golden Orchid, Ltd. et al¸ No. 1:16-cv-2234 (E.D.N.Y.): putative class action asserting violations of multiple states’ consumer protection statutes and raising claims for breach of express warranty and unjust enrichment.  Plaintiff claims Defendants misleadingly market their jarred preserved food products (e.g., picked cucumber and chili radish) as “preservative free,” although the products

Bowring v. Sapporo U.S.A., Inc., No. 1:16-cv-1858 (E.D.N.Y.): Putative class action asserting violations of New York’s consumer protection statutes and claims of negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleges Defendant has misled consumers into believing its Sapporo brand beer is manufactured in and imported from Japan, when the beverage is brewed in the United States or Canada.  Complaint.

Brahler v. Kraft Heinz Foods Co.¸ No. 2:16-cv-849 (E.D. Cal.): Copycat putative class action asserting violations of California’s consumer protection statutes (CLRA, FAL, UCL) and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and raising claims for breach of warranty (express and implied), negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleges Defendant falsely advertises its grated parmesan cheese products as containing “100% parmesan cheese,” when in fact the product contains between seven to nine percent cellulose, a filler and anti-clumping agent derived from wood pulp.  Complaint.

Brower v. Campbell Soup Co., No. 3:16-cv-1005 (S.D. Cal.): Putative class action asserting violations of California’s UCL, CLRA, and FAL, and raising claims of breach of warranty (express and implied). Plaintiff alleges Defendant misleadingly labels and markets its “Healthy Request Chunky Grilled Chicken & Sausage Gumbo” soup product as being healthy, although the product contains artificial trans fat in the form of partially hydrogenated soybean oil.  Complaint.
Continue Reading New Filings For May 9, 2016

Kremmel v. Pac. Foods of Or., Inc.¸ No. 16L156 (Ill. Cir. Ct. – St. Clair Cnty.): Putative class action asserting a violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act and a claim of unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleges that Defendant misrepresented certain of its non-dairy beverage products (Hemp and Hazelnut) as being “all natural” although they contain several synthetic ingredients, including Xanthan Gum and Riboflavin.  Complaint.

Shihad v. Wild Planet Foods, Inc., No. 1:16-cv-1478 (N.D. Cal.): Putative class action asserting violations of California’s CLRA, FAL, and UCL, and claims for breach of warranty (express and implied merchantability), fraud, and negligent misrepresentation. Plaintiff alleges Defendant’s five-ounce canned tuna products are under filled and substantially underweight.  Complaint.

Agles v. Kraft Heinz Foods Co., No. 3:16-cv-1552 (C.D. Cal.): Copycat putative class action asserting claims under California’s UCL, FAL, CLRA, and for common law breach of express warranty.  Plaintiff alleges that Defendant falsely advertises its grated parmesan cheese products as “100% parmesan cheese,” when the products contain significant amounts of adulterants and fillers, including cellulose, a filler and anti-clumping agent derived from wood pulp.  Complaint.
Continue Reading New Filings for April 22, 2016

Sims v. Albertson, LLC et al, No. 1:16-cv-10553 (D. Mass.):  Copycat putative class action asserting claims for breach of warranty (express and implied merchantability), and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff alleges Defendants have falsely advertised their grated parmesan cheese products as containing “100% parmesan cheese,” when the products contain significant amounts of adulterants and fillers, including cellulose, a filler and anti-clumping agent derived from wood pulp.  Complaint.

McCartney v. Trader Joe’s Co., No. CGC-16-551071 (Cal. Super. Ct. – San Francisco Cnty.): Proposition 65 action alleging Defendant’s unsweetened cocoa powder contains cadmium. Complaint.

Giffin v. Universal Protein Supplement Corp., No. BC613414 (Cal. Super. Ct. – Los Angeles Cnty.): Putative class action asserting violations of California’s consumer protection statutes and claims for negligent and intentional misrepresentation.  Plaintiff accuses Defendants of falsely labeling their protein supplement products “Made in the U.S.A.,” although the products contain foreign ingredients. Complaint.
Continue Reading New Filings for April 15, 2016