Tag: consumer

Sustainability and Consumer Confidence in Food Safety

For food sellers interested in promoting a “sustainable” brand and inspiring food safety confidence in their consumers, meet Food Alliance. Food Alliance “is a nonprofit organization that certifies farms, ranches and food handlers for sustainable agricultural and facility management practices.” It bills itself as “the most comprehensive certification program for sustainably produced food in North … Continue Reading

More on Reducing the Risk of Failure – Focus on Shifting Liability For Consumer Claims

Food Safety Magazine ran an interesting piece by Aaron Krauss titled “Reducing the Risk of Failure.”  The article was part of the magazine’s focus on limiting liability for food companies.  Mr. Krauss includes a good discussion of the pros and cons of indemnities and disclaimers of warranty and liability as ways to shift or reduce … Continue Reading

Court Rules That Retailers Have No Duty to Investigate Suppliers Compliance with Organic Regulations

An important ruling was issued last week dismissing claims that milk produced by an organically certified dairy and labeled as organic was not really organic. Plaintiffs in the action asserted violations of various states’ laws because they claimed that they paid more for the milk because it was labeled as "organic.” A federal judge in … Continue Reading

Food Safety Legislation Proposed by House – User Fees and Traceability Are Among Highlights

Last week, members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce released a discussion draft of the “Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.”   The draft proposes beefing up the FDA registry of “all food facilities serving American consumers” and charging every facility $1,000 per year to fund FDA food safety activities. … Continue Reading

Tracking the Food Safety Working Group – More or Less Legal Exposure For Food Sellers?

This week the Obama administration announced the launch of a new website for the recently formed food safety working group. Obama announced the formation of this group in March in the wake of the high-profile food safety issues surrounding PCA peanut products.  This website will assist in tracking the efforts of the working group. As discussed … Continue Reading

Defending Liability in Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

I’m asked frequently about the “anatomy of litigation.” I plan to write more in this space on the topic. For now, some may find useful the slides from a presentation I gave recently on “Defending Liability in Foodborne Illness Outbreaks.” I discussed what I see as three prototypes of consumer claims and possible strategies to respond … Continue Reading

Are Organic Foods Safer? Will Consumers Continue to Favor Organics?

Nobody disputes that consumers have a favorable view of organic certification in foods. Consumers generally believe that organic foods are healthier, and many believe they taste better. Yet, among food scientists, uncertainty prevails as to whether organics are safer, especially raw fruits and vegetables. Absence of synthetic fertilizers is a primary distinction between organic and … Continue Reading

Alaska Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Statute

As discussed previously on this blog, the ABA Section of Litigation, Products Liability Committee will soon publish its 50-state survey on consumer protection statutes. In addition to the chapter on Washington, Bryan Anderson and I also coauthored the Alaska chapter.   As with Washington, the Alaska statute is quite broad. See AS § 45.50.471-.561. A … Continue Reading

Washington Consumer Protection Law

The ABA Section of Litigation, Products Liability Committee will soon publish its 50-state survey on consumer protection statutes. Bryan Anderson and I coauthored the chapter for the state of Washington. As described in our article, Washington’s Consumer Protection Act, RCW 19.86.010, et seq., is quite broad:   The Act is modeled after federal statutes, primarily the … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Denies Certiorari on Salmon Labeling Case

UPDATE to previous blog entries about the California salmon labeling case (Albertsons v. Kanter) – Just yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari.  The Supreme Court’s ruling followed briefing submitted by the Solicitor General (aka Bush Administration). The Bush Administration  argued in support of the California Supreme Court’s  opinion that claims under state law for alleged mislabeling of salmon are not preempted by federal … Continue Reading

When Is Labeling Misleading and Actionable Under State Law? Is There Any Clearly Understood Standard?

A recent Ninth Circuit case again raises serious questions as to whether there are any clearly defined legal standards as to when a food label is misleading and when it’s not. Manufacturers who are in compliance with federal standards for labeling may still be liable under state law. In Williams v. Gerber, the Ninth Circuit, … Continue Reading

Practical Advice for Litigating the Food Case

Click here for the slides from a presentation I gave recently with Shawn Stevens entitled "Practical Advice for Litigating the Case: Retaining Experts, Assessing Damages and Planing Trial Strategy." Two threads of my part of the presentation were organization and relationships (I believe that these were also central to Obama’s campaign hence the campaign log). In … Continue Reading

Court to Rule on Consumers’ Expectations For Organic Cosmetics

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps (“Dr. Bronner’s”) received a favorable ruling recently in its suit against competitors that it believes are misleading consumers by labeling cosmetic products as “Organic”. Part of Dr. Bronner’s claim appears to be that “Organic” standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) set the bar for consumer expectations of "Organic" cosmetic products. … Continue Reading

Salmon Labeling Probably Headed to Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court  signaled last week that it may review a California Supreme Court decision finding that federal law does not preempt claims for violations of state consumer protection laws concerning “selling artificially colored farmed salmon without disclosing to . . . customers the use of color additive.” Following a petition for certiorari filed … Continue Reading

Lessons from Toxic Rice and Chinese Dairies – Threats From Bioterrorism and Supplier Fraud

Manufacturer fraud and bioterrorism should be on the radar screen for any food producer. Apart from the meltdown in the U.S. financial markets and presidential politics, the big news this week is toxic rice from Southeast Asia and melamine-tainted dairy products from China. Both crises were caused by intentional contamination of food products by raw-materials … Continue Reading

Dos and Don’ts for Executives Managing a Crisis

As discussed frequently in this blog, management of an outbreak at its inception determines the course of the crisis (and, in some cases, the fate of the company). The Globe and Mail, in its ongoing coverage of the Maple Leaf Foods Listeria outbreak, today published a helpful punch list of 15 dos and don’ts for … Continue Reading

Good Time To Review Crisis Management Plans

Incredibly, the Salmonella Saintpaul outbreak remains unsolved. First reported onset of illness date was April 10, yet the traceback is still not complete. Personal injury and economic damage claims await for the FDA and CDC to determine causation. Produce industry, particularly in Mexico, stands to suffer long lasting injury.  Whether or not your business stands … Continue Reading
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