Monday, August 20, 2012
Food manufacturers are the target of a wave of new lawsuits filed by consumers who allege the companies are mislabeling their products and ingredients.
The New York Times reports that lawyers of Big Tobacco lawsuits searching for the next big payday are now taking aim against food manufacturers. Some 25 cases have been filed against industry players like ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo, Heinz, General Mills and Chobani.
According to the NYT article, the tobacco lawyers are moving particularly aggressively and seeking billions of dollars in damages. For example, they have asked a federal court in California to halt ConAgraâ€™s sales of Pam cooking spray, Swiss Miss cocoa products and some Huntâ€™s canned tomatoes.
In response, the food companies say the suits are without merit, frivolousÂ and being driven largely by the lawyersâ€™ financial motivations.
The NYT writes that the lawyers are not the only ones who appear to be targeting the food industry. Recently, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has sued General Mills for using the term â€œnaturalâ€ on its Nature Valley products.
A glance at the CSPI website reveals that Welch andÂ Splenda Essentials are also facing deceptive health claims on their products.
Itâ€™s worth noting that Ferrero, the manufacturers of Nutella recently agreed to pay $3 million to settle a class action lawsuit over misleading advertising that claimed the chocolate-hazelnut spread was healthy.
In an earlier blog post, we noted the potential liability risk facing food manufacturers, advertising agencies and ingredient manufacturers to name a few from obesity-related tort actions.
But thisÂ new wave of lawsuits appears to be very specific. As the NYT says, the latest litigation
argues that food companies are violating specific rules about ingredients and labels and misleading consumers. This is why itâ€™s so important that food companies comply with federal regulation.