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A “Vibe” is Not Enough: Ben & Jerry’s “All Natural” Case Loses Class Certification

You’ll remember the scene from "Casablanca." Ilse (Ingrid Bergman) comes in and Rick (Humphrey Bogart) says, "Your unexpected visit isn’t connected by any chance with the letters of transit. It seems as long as I have those letters, I’ll never be lonely." That’s sort of how I feel about "all natural" product labeling litigation. So … Continue Reading

Finally…A Farm Bill!

While standing in front of a tractor at Michigan State University (the first land-grant university) on Friday, February 7, 2014, President Obama signed the long awaited $956 billion farm bill into law. The 2014 Farm Bill, what some have called a “jobs bill,” an “innovation bill,” a “research bill” and a “conservation bill,” passed in … Continue Reading

FSMA And Prop 65 At The GMA Conference

Attorneys Lee N. Smith and Melissa A. Jones participated in the GMA 2012 Food Claims and Litigation Conference in Dana Point.  Mr. Smith (his real name) spoke on the effect of the New Food Safety Modernization Act and its potential impact on litigation, and Ms. Jones (her real name) and Mr. Smith also presented an overview of Proposition … Continue Reading

Green Chemistry Is Back

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released new informal draft regulations whose stated purpose is:  "to make safer consumer products ….widespread in California…[and]…. provide more protection against toxic chemicals in products on store shelves, while creating market opportunities for industry."    The draft released on October 31, 2011, creates regulations identifying consumer products that contain … Continue Reading

FDA’s Right To Photograph In Your Plant

The FDA asserts in its inspection manual its right to photograph in your plant. Yet the FDA does not have statutory authority to photograph. The manual cites the following cases as authority for its right to photograph the inside of a plant: Dow Chem. Co. v. United States, 476 U.S. 227 (1986), and United States … Continue Reading

What to Ask About Recall or Product Contamination Insurance Coverage

If they don’t already have it, I advise my clients to talk with their insurance broker about purchasing recall insurance (otherwise known as product contamination insurance) . For clients who have recall insurance, I advise them to make sure the policy provides the coverage they expect. Recall insurance is a different animal than other policies … Continue Reading

FDA’s Reportable Food Registry Makes a Profound Impact

Here is a link to my article, "FDA’s Reportable Food Registry Profoundly Impacts Litigation and the Food Industry," posted this week by the American Bar Association‘s Litigation Section (Products Liability). The article is a follow-on to lively discussions over the litigation impacts of the federal Reportable Food Registry ("RFR") at the ABA’s recent Food & … Continue Reading

More on the FSMA and the “Tester Amendment”

Earlier this week, I presented a webinar to the American Cheese Society entitled the "Food Safety Modernization Act and Product Liability." A link to the presentation is here. The presentation covered a number of topics and included a discussion of the so-called "Tester Amendment" to FSMA. The "Tester Amendment" in section 103 of FSMA "exempts" … Continue Reading

How the Food Safety Modernization Act Changes the Status Quo

Yesterday (while taking a break from the Sustainable Food Summit in San Francisco), I traveled to Modesto, California to speak to the Manufacturer’s Council of the Central Valley. I spoke about the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The focus of my talk was how the FSMA changes the status quo for food businesses. And … Continue Reading

Unintended Consequences of FDA Mandatory Recall Authority?

For years, a debate has raged on the merits of vesting the FDA with mandatory recall powers. Mandatory recall is part of the food safety legislation that may or may not pass in this Congress, so it’s worth discussing. At present, the FDA lacks any power to order a recall. Its only legal authority is … Continue Reading

FDA Seeks Public Comment Regarding FOP Labeling

This post also appears on the Essential Nutrition Law Blog. In an April 28 release, the Food and Drug Administration (the “FDA”) asked for comments and information from the public and other interested parties about front-of-pack (“FOP”) nutrition labeling and shelf tags in retail stores. The FOP is the part of the package label that … Continue Reading

Cleaning Up the Docket – Northern District of California Dismisses Lanham Act Claim Alleging Mislabeling of Personal Care Products

As we have blogged about, litigation regarding product labeling has been a hot topic within the food and beverage industry. A recent decision from the Northern District of California could hold interesting implications for Lanham Act claims centering on the labeling of products as “organic.” While the case, One God Faith, Inc. v. Hain Celestial … Continue Reading

Levine v. Vilsack: The Ninth Circuit Rules the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act Provides No Remedy

The Ninth Circuit ruled that there is no remedy available for an alleged misinterpretation of the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958 to exclude poultry from its scope. And a plaintiff who sued only under that statute could not force the Secretary of Agriculture to make an interpretation under a different statute, the Federal Meat Inspection Act, that poultry were an "amenable species" to be placed under the slaughter provisions of that completely separate law. Thus, plaintiffs lacked standing to pursue a claim in federal court.… Continue Reading

Litigation and Insurance Coverage Risks from Swine Flu (H1N1)

For food companies (and other businesses), a dangerous and deadly flu pandemic (e.g., H1N1) can be a business disaster. Adding insult to injury is personal injury litigation and the accompanying insurance coverage nightmares that follow. What Are the Personal Injury Litigation Risks? For restaurants, airlines, cruiselines, supermarkets, hospitals, schools, and other institutions, risk comes from … Continue Reading

Snapple Decision – FDA’s Policy Concerning Use of “Natural” Not Entitled to Preemptive Effect

High Fructose Corn Syrup Labeling: Opening the Floodgates For Consumer HFCS Claims? The Third Circuit ruled this week in Holk v. Snapple Beverage Corp., reversing the district court and reinstating the state law putative class claims for consumer fraud and breach of warranty for use of the term “all natural” despite the inclusion of high … Continue Reading

DOJ and DOA Announce Workshops to Evaluate Agricultural Markets and Competition

By Guest Blogger Joel Dahlgren Last week the Justice Department and U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that the two federal agencies will hold joint public workshops to explore competition issues affecting agriculture in the 21st century, including the appropriate role of the federal government in antitrust and regulatory enforcement. The first workshop will be held … Continue Reading

Bottled Water Association Sues Over Water Bottle Ads

The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is taking aim at an advertising campaign for Eco Canteen stainless steel water bottles, claiming the ads wrongly suggest that plastic water bottles are unhealthy and unsafe. In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, IBWA claims that Eco Canteen’s television … Continue Reading

Assessing Risks of Chemicals in Foods with Limited Scientific Information

An important study was released this month by the Institute of Food Technologists addressing the challenge of responding to food contamination with limited scientific information. Ricardo Carvajal at Hyman, Phelps & McNamara wrote about this on the FDALawBlog last week. You can read the summary by Rosetta L. Newsome here. Ms. Newsome summarizes the three main sections of … Continue Reading

2010 Food Safety Education Conference Announced

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced the 2010 Food Safety Education Conference. The conference will be held in Atlanta from March 23 through 26, 2010. Although the agenda is still a work in progress, you can expect sessions on foodborne illnesses, outreach to the medical community, food safety education initiatives, social … Continue Reading

Food Safety Legislative Update

We wrote recently about the food safety legislation coming out of Henry Waxman’s House Committee on Energy and Commerce. That legislation, H.R. 2749, has passed out of committee and been reported to the full House for a vote. When the vote will occur is anybody’s guess. Reuters quotes Chairman Waxman as saying, “I am hopeful … 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
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