Food Litigation News

Serving up legal insights on food and beverage labeling and nutritional content

As you all know, the Northern District of California jury found earlier this week that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide product was a “substantial factor” in causing a plaintiff’s non Hodgkin lymphoma. The defendants and industry were all very optimistic that the trial, which focused solely on causation and not knowledge or company conduct, would result in an impartial scientific analysis. Unfortunately, the jury ignored a very substantial body of literature that glyphosate, the active ingredient in…
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 litigation team in order to track and understand trends in this area, 2018’s Year in Reviewagain reports an increase in class…
Consumer class action suits continue to target food products that plaintiffs allege don’t actually contain the ingredients highlighted in their labels. For example, in one such false fact case last month, the plaintiff argued that the labels for Panera Bread’s blueberry bagels are misleading; allegedly, the bagels do not contain blueberries at all, only pieces of dyed sugar and flour meant to look like blueberries. (Similar past lawsuits have targeted blueberry-labeled products sold at Dunkin…
Consumer class action suits continue to target food products that plaintiffs allege don’t actually contain the ingredients highlighted in their labels. For example, in one such false fact case last month, the plaintiff argued that the labels for Panera Bread’s blueberry bagels are misleading; allegedly, the bagels do not contain blueberries at all, only pieces of dyed sugar and flour meant to look like blueberries. (Similar past lawsuits have targeted blueberry-labeled products sold at Dunkin…
On December 20, 2018, President Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (popularly known as the 2018 Farm Bill) into law. Among the broad-ranging provisions included in the law, it legalizes the cultivation and sale of hemp at the federal level, effective January 1, 2019. Hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) businesses have thrived in numerous state jurisdictions in which such products are legal. Federal legalization means that hemp producers and businesses that deal in hemp…
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. November saw a high number of new class action complaints advancing familiar challenges to the “all natural” claims affixed to pasta, ice cream, potato chips and other products. Due to the lack of regulatory guidance…
In its recent ruling in Weiss v. Trader Joe’s Company, the Central District of California faced the question of whether certain statements on product labels promoting high-alkalinity water were false and misleading or simply puffery. Among these statements were claims that the water is “ionized to achieve the perfect balance.” Plaintiff Dana Weiss argued that the claims found on the actual product, together with advertising statements made in the defendant’s “Fearless Flyer” marketing brochure,…
On Tuesday, October 23, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an important opinion reviving a decade-old Alien Tort Claims Act (ATS) suit based on alleged aiding and abetting slave labor in cocoa farms on the Ivory Coast. Doe 1 v. Nestle, et al., No. 17-55435, 2018 WL 5260852 (9th Cir. Oct. 23, 2018). In doing so, the Court ruled that even if the ATS applied only to domestic conduct, the facts alleged in…
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. October 2018 filings continued an upward trend exceeding 2017’s pace.  As in the later months of 2017, October 2018 filings focused on false labeling, slack-fill, and all-natural. Both slack-fill claims filed this month pertained to…
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is implementing changes to the Nutrition Facts Panel for food and beverage labels. Manufacturers are required to comply with the new requirements by January 1, 2020, although manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales have an additional year, until January 1, 2021. Key changes include the following: Serving sizes are being changed to reflect the amounts typically consumed. In addition, larger packages may now be considered a…