Recent Developments in New York Federal Courts Food Labeling Litigation Proves Business Friendly | Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC

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[author: Jesssica Griswold]

New York federal courts recently dismissed three implausible claims of mislabelling in pleadings, prompting reasonable consumers to take a closer look at the packaging. Each of the three demands— Boswell v Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc., Kamara v. Pepperidge Farm Inc., and Warren v. Whole Foods Market Group Inc.– was a class action lawsuit filed by counsel for the same plaintiff.

On November 4, 2021, the Southern District of New York removed its post Boswell v Bimbo Bakeries USA, Inc., an alleged class action lawsuit alleging that Entenmann’s “All Butter Loaf Cake” was falsely advertised because it contained soybean oil and artificial flavors in addition to butter. Recognizing that the description “All Butter” is ambiguous, the Boswell the court examined the label of the challenged product as well as the labels used on other buttercake products to determine that the description was not “likely to mislead a reasonable consumer acting reasonably in the circumstances”.

On November 9, 2021, the Southern District of New York also laid off Kamara v. Pepperidge Farm Inc., an alleged class action lawsuit alleging that the use of the term “Golden Butter Crackers” was misleading because the crackers contained vegetable oil. the Kamara The court found that the product’s packaging accurately indicated that the crackers contained vegetable oil, noting that vegetable oil was the second ingredient in the list of ingredients displayed on the packaging. As such, the tribunal concluded that the complaint did not plausibly allege why a reasonable consumer would interpret “Golden Butter” to mean that “wherever butter could be used in the product, it would be used instead of use its synthetic substitute, vegetable oil. “

Most recently, on December 3, 2021, the Eastern District of New York removed its post Warren v. Whole Foods Market Group Inc., an alleged class action lawsuit claiming that the label used on Whole Foods Market’s instant oatmeal has misled consumers and “tricked them into paying inflated prices” for a high-sugar product. The court ruled that the product’s sugar content was “hard to miss,” explaining that “even if a reasonable consumer was unaware of the many names of sugar or the purpose of the nutrition label, the fact remains that the words “Sugar 11g” are prominently displayed. right next to the ingredient list.

These mislabelling decisions stem “from a long series of putative class actions brought by the same lawyer,” as Justice Furman of the Southern District of New York described it. As such, they exemplify the New York federal courts’ willingness to screen out implausible and poorly filed complaints against large food manufacturers for allegedly mislabelling popular food products sold across the United States. This raises the question of whether the New York federal court precedent will influence food labeling disputes in other jurisdictions, and if so, how?


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