• Home
  • >
  • Focus
  • Avoiding the Food Labeling Class Action Trap

Avoiding the Food Labeling Class Action Trap

Making food can be a tricky proposition in the modern era. First, you need to balance the taste of a product with its nutrition. Then, you need to successfully market the product to retailers and consumers. And throughout, you need to worry about labeling mistakes and how much that could cost your company.

The last part of that equation was covered in detail in the 2018 update of The Food Institute and OFW Law’s webinar entitled Avoiding the Food Labeling Class Action Trap. Approximately two new lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors and retailers were filed each week in 2017, so the information shared via the webinar could prove to be an invaluable resource for any food producer.

The webinar is designed to help food producers with the following:

  • Avoid “lighting rod” claims.
  • Identify trending label statements that pose potential trouble.
  • Minimize risk in making ingredient statements on the principal display panel – Sidestep the pitfalls of “natural,” “handcrafted,” “ethically sourced,” and other undefined claims.
  • Avoid becoming the target of a non-functional slack-fill action.
  • Analyze strategies and tactics for defending class actions in court.
  • Stay abreast of the latest case law developments impacting food and beverage claims.

Some key takeaways from the 90-minute webinar include:

  • Hundreds of cases regarding food labeling are tried in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Although New York and other states are also hotbeds for these sorts of cases, the so-called “Food Court” has seen 200 cases on the term “all-natural” alone.
  • Plaintiffs often rely on demand letters that mimic FDA warning letters. These letters often lead to settlements long before public court cases are initiated.
  • Despite a transparent ingredients list and Nutrition Facts label, food producers cannot rely upon these items alone to clear them of false claims. Transparent marketing is necessary to ensure compliance with federal law.
  • Litigation remains risky and costly, so only a few companies wish to fight through such cases. Most settle early on for much less than the asking price, but these settlements often remain significant sums.
  • Foreign decisions regarding pesticides, “all-natural” claims and more can affect cases in the U.S. Country of origin labeling, too, can become a headache for food producers despite following U.S. laws.

Although the webinar has since been completed, The Food Institute offers a recording for $99. Check out our catalog here to purchase a copy and keep abreast of current legal developments in the food industry sphere.