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Missouri Alcohol Retailers no longer Tongue-Tied by Tied-House Restrictions on Advertising

Missouri tied-house law, which restricts dealings between suppliers, wholesalers and retailers, is currently in flux following a recent ruling by the US District Court for the Western District, which held that several of Missouri’s regulations pertaining to supplier advertising were unconstitutional.  This pivotal opinion—which has wide-ranging implications for alcohol advertising in the state—was appealed to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on October 11, 2018 and has garnered widespread attention in the industry.  The case raises economic and practical issues for retailers and significant legal and policy issues for state regulators.

In June, 2018 the District Court struck down three types of restrictions on alcohol advertising: 1) a restriction forbidding media advertising of price discounts—including restrictions prohibiting retailers from offering discounts on the purchase of beer or wine and from outside advertising of discounts on alcohol; 2) a restriction forbidding retailers from advertising prices below cost; and 3) a statute

California Amends Slack Fill Law

California Amends Slack Fill Law

October 3, 2018

Authored by: Bob Boone and Sarah Burwick

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law Assembly Bill 2632, which amended California’s slack fill statute to create several exemptions.  This amendment will be an additional hurdle to the plaintiff bar, which has been flooding the courts with slack fill related lawsuits in recent years.  These lawsuits, typically filed as class actions, allege that product packaging is misleading to the extent it contains nonfunctional empty space, known as slack fill, which causes consumers to believe they are receiving more of the product than they actually are.

The new law, which will amend California Business and Professions Code Sections 12606 and 12606.2, includes the following key changes:

  • The amended law exempts packaging sold in a mode of commerce that “does not allow the consumer to view or handle the physical container or product.” It could be argued that this exempts online sales.
  • The amended law exempts product packaging that clearly

End of the Road for Mike and Ike Slack Fill Litigation

In another victory for a candy manufacturer, a federal court in Missouri denied class certification earlier this month, effectively ending the plaintiff’s attempt to seek damages on a class-wide basis for all consumers of Hot Tamales and Mike and Ike candies.

The lawsuit, White v. Just Born, alleged that boxes of the candy were underfilled, leaving unusable empty space, known as “slack fill,” that deceived the consumer into thinking he was receiving more candy than was actually in the package.  The plaintiff sought certification of a Missouri class, and two multi-state unjust enrichment classes, on the theory that the actual value of the candy was less than the consumers paid for it.

The court declined to certify all three classes, ruling that proving class-wide violation of Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act “will involve predominantly individual inquiries as to whether each class member purchased the candy.” Because most consumers purchase this type

FDA to Modernize Food Identity Standards, Starting With Dairy Products

August 3, 2018

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FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has announced that the FDA is undertaking a comprehensive review of food standards of identity to ensure food labels are truthful and not misleading.  No doubt that for some this announcement is a long overdue response to rapidly evolving innovation in the food production sector that continues to challenge standards for truthful and non-misleading food labeling.

The FDA intends to focus first on standards of identity for dairy products.  In his statement, Gottlieb discusses the highly controversial topic regarding plant-based alternatives and the standard of identity for “milk,” e.g., soy, almond, etc.  These plant-based alternatives “are not the food that has been standardized under the name ‘milk’ and which has been known to the American public as ‘milk’ long before the 1938 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) was established,” Gottlieb says.   He goes on to suggest that these plant-based products are creating

Coffee Defendants Likely To Seek Stay of Prop. 65 Action Following OEHHA’s Proposal to Exempt Coffee From Cancer Warning Requirement

July 9, 2018

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Defendants in the Proposition 65 case against Starbucks and numerous other coffee manufacturers and retailers have indicated that they intend to file a motion to stay that action following a proposal by the California agency that administers Prop. 65 to exempt coffee from the cancer warning requirement for certain types of exposures.

Judge Elihu Berle has issued an order in Council for Education and Research on Toxics v. Starbucks, et al., Los Angeles Superior Court Case No. BC435759, setting a hearing date on defendants’ contemplated request for a stay of the action for July 31 – the same day as the hearing on the plaintiff’s motion seeking a permanent injunction which could potentially result in defendants being required to sell their coffee products with a Prop. 65 warning in California.

On June 15, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to exempt coffee from

Battle Heats Up Concerning Regulatory Jurisdiction Over Cultured Meat Products

July 9, 2018

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The next wave of emerging agricultural biotechnology is set for its first regulatory showdown. Cell-cultured meat (“CCM”) allows your steak to be grown in a lab by replicating animal cells.  Some CCM products are even created using synthetic products derived from plants, insects, and other non-animal proteins.  No matter the type of culture used, CCM products are created without animals born, raised, and slaughtered in the traditional manner.  Advocates of this emerging industry have coined the term “clean meat,” but many in the conventional meat food industry feel it should not be called “meat” at all.

On February 9, 2018, the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association (“USCA”) filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) requesting that USDA invoke its jurisdiction over CCM and mandate that such products not be allowed to use “meat” or “beef” in their labeling.  Indeed, the USCA asserts that such terms should be associated

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