Category Archives: Labeling

Supreme Court’s Juice Decision Could Open the Door to New Litigation

Juice maker POM Wonderful manufactures 100% pomegranate juice and other juice products made primarily from the pomegranate fruit. Since its founding in 2002, the company has reached a growing market of health-conscious consumers who are willing to pay a premium for the claimed health benefits of the pomegranate fruit. In 2008, POM filed a deceptive labeling claim against a competing juice manufacturer arguing that its label, which prominently displayed the words “pomegranate blueberry” despite containing less than half of a percent of these juices, was…

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California Law Proposed to Require Labeling of Genetically Modified Foods

The California State Legislature recently proposed SB 1381, which requires manufacturers to label genetically modified foods. The bill places limitations on potential litigation and only permits an injured party to collect attorney’s fees and costs. Connecticut and Maine have similar laws but they are contingent upon four or five additional states passing similar legislation. California’s proposed bill does not contain this contingency requirement.  Many business groups oppose this bill. The Agricultural Council of California estimates the proposed requirements will increase the cost of food, which…

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Are We Ready for New Nutritional Information Labels?

The FDA recently took its first step toward a facelift for the now ubiquitous nutritional information labels we see on food and drink every day. On February 27, 2014, the FDA proposed updates to the labels for all packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products. The proposed changes would be the first update to nutritional information labels since 2006, when the labels were first required to include information on trans fats. These proposed changes aim to address rising concerns about diet-related health…

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Portable Generators Linked to Carbon Monoxide Deaths

With the increase in violent storms and extreme weather causing more power outages, the number of homes using portable generators has dramatically increased in recent years. Portable generators have fuel burning engines and the exhaust emitted from these engines contains dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide. When used indoors or in enclosed spaces, the exhaust from portable generators can be fatal. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), in a recent report, found that portable generators were linked to more than 85 percent of non-fire carbon…

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What’s All the Uproar About Caramel Color?

Caramel color:  it sounds harmless – maybe even delicious – so why has it suddenly caused enough concern to draw Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attention? “Caramel color” is a common name for a type of artificial coloring regularly added to soft drinks and other foods to turn them brown. In fact, according to some studies and reports, caramel color is the single most used food coloring in the world. But some types of caramel color contain a potentially carcinogenic chemical called 4-methylimidazole (4-MeI). In…

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Consumer’s Individual and Proposed Class Action Claims of Mislabeling of Organic Foods Found Preempted by Federal Law by a California Appellate Court

The food industry received welcome news late last month when a California state appellate court in Los Angeles affirmed a trial court finding that a proposed class action against a federally certified, organic food grower could not proceed because the claims were preempted by federal law, specifically the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (“OFPA”).  In Quesada v. Herb Thyme Farms, Inc., 222 Cal.App.4th 642 (Cal. App. 2d Dist., 3d Dep’t, Dec. 23, 2013), the plaintiff, Michelle Quesada, sued on her own behalf…

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OSHA’s HazCom Rule and Personal Injury Suits

Last year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) published a rule that modified its Hazard Communication (HazCom) requirements governing how chemical manufacturers, employers, and other organizations convey hazard information to employees. Previously, companies had some discretion over the appearance and wording of these labels. OSHA formulated these amendments to conform to the United Nation’s Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) and create a standardized approach regarding this issue because companies often operate in various countries with different laws. However, a…

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“All Natural” May Not Mean What You Think It Means

Nestle USA Inc. is seeking dismissal of a putative class action suit against the company stemming from the labeling of certain products as “all natural.” In Pelayo v. Nestle USA, Inc., currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the plaintiff is seeking to certify a class for a suit against Nestle claiming that Nestle violated California state law by representing that Buitoni Pasta products are “all natural” when they contained synthetic substances such as soy lecithin, xanthan gum,…

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Arm & Hammer Can’t Rub Off Deodorant False-Ad Claims

The plaintiffs argued that Church & Dwight, the manufacturer of Arm & Hammer’s “natural” deodorant, participated in a false and misleading marketing strategy claiming the product actually contains the synthetic antibacterial agent Triclosan, which is linked to various health risks. The manufacturer filed a motion to dismiss the claim and argued the pleadings were insufficient to support a claim for fraud under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b). A New Jersey federal court disagreed and is letting the case move forward. Some consumer…

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HazCom 2012 – Get Ready

In 2012, OSHA revised its Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) to comport with the United Nations’ Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). OSHA is phasing in the specific requirements over several years in order to give companies time to comply with the revised requirements. New labeling elements and a standardized format for Safety Data Sheets (SDSs – previously known as Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs)) are two important changes. The first compliance date is quickly approaching, December 1, 2013. On or before…

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